Feast of sacrifice

Eid al-Adha or Aid al-Adha which could be translated as Celebration of Sacrifice, is the major Muslim holiday, in fact the translation of Aid al-Kebir is Great Feast. This feast commemorates the passage in the Koran, which shows the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael (in the Bible it is Isaac who would be sacrificed) as an act of obedience to God. God would intervene to provide a lamb to be sacrificed in his place.

The Feast of Sacrifice is celebrated on the tenth day of the last month of the lunar year, the day after the gathering of millions of pilgrims on Mount Arafat in Makkah Al-Mukarramah usually lasts 3 days.


Eid Al-Kebir means “the great festival” because it is the most important festival in the Muslim calendar. It is also called Eid al-Adha, the “festival of sacrifice”. On this day, every Muslim family that can afford it sacrifices one sheep. The little diary explains why and describes the day in one of these families.

This festival celebrates the devotion of Ibrahim, the Jewish-Christian Abraham, whom God would have asked to sacrifice his son (Ishmael for Muslims, Isaac for Christians and Jews) on an altar.

At the time of the action, God would have sent a sheep through the Archangel Gabriel to replace Ibrahim’s son. Therefore, Muslims are invited during Eid el-Kebir to sacrifice a sheep according to a specific rite.

Some time before the great feast, the markets are in full swing, of course for the purchase of the sheep but also for spices and cooking utensils.

Buying sheep is difficult to negotiate, especially since prices tend to rise. In principle, only those who can afford to buy and kill sheep should do so. But for poor families, Eid and the feast of the year is the feast of the year and they do everything they can to afford their sheep, even if it means going into debt. Currently in Casablanca, it is necessary to count at least 1500Dhs for a sheep (about 130 euros), the price can go up to 4500Dhs (400 euros) for a strong and “beldi” animal.

The Eid is traditionally the time of year when fresh spices are bought. They are very numerous and varied (see our article). Previous generations bought their spices and moulded them themselves. Today, in the grocery stores (the 7anout), the spices are chosen and ground under the eyes of the customers to guarantee the quality of the blends. They are often accompanied by onions in the kitchen, hence the large quantities sold during the festival.

The history of the feast of sacrifice

According to the Koran, this prophet (Abraham in the Bible) was a faithful friend of God. This did not prevent God from testing him. Ibrahim was ordered in a dream to sacrifice his son Ishmael, born of his union with Hakar. Ibrahim and his son united to submit to the will of God. Satan tried to convince the father and son to renounce, but Ibrahim threw seven stones at him. Ibrahim then tried to sacrifice Ishmael before he was stopped by the archangel Jibril (Gabriel) and Ishmael was replaced by a ram. Ibrahim had to choose between the love of Allah and the love of his only son. By choosing the love of God, he gave his son back to him. This prophet is considered a model for all believers.

The course of the day

On the morning of Eid, families often stay home. The women go to the kitchen very early to prepare the day’s meals. After the Eid prayer, which takes place around 8:00 am in large outdoor squares, the Muslims have a few hours to kill the sheep before the 12:30 pm prayer. If the animal is killed before the prayer, it will not be considered a sacrifice. The beast must not see the leaf before the sacrifice. Once the lamb has been slaughtered, one can do with it as one pleases. However, beforehand, it cannot be stunned. The animal has to be conscious.

Feast of the Lamb Prayer

Slaughter must take place after the Great Prayer in slaughterhouses approved by the public authorities in strict compliance with the health regulations in force and the religious principles governing ritual slaughter, says the Great Mosque in Paris. This means that it is strictly forbidden to sacrifice the animal at home. Once the sheep has been skinned, drained of its blood and cut, it can be consumed. In the Koran, the sura “The Pilgrimage” says: “Eat it yourself and make the wretch eat it. According to tradition, Muslims keep one third of the sheep for themselves, offer one third to friends and neighbours and the last third as alms for the needy. Indeed, the one who cannot afford it does not have to buy a sheep.

During the rest of the day, Muslims usually go to visit their families. Tradition dictates that people should be well dressed for this special day and that they should indulge in eating cakes.

In the deserted streets, you will see butchers with long knives and bloody aprons, running from house to house, offering their services. Then will come the merry-go-round of carts that come to collect the animal skins. And in the air, there will be the smell of toasted hair… While this strange ballet is being performed, the kitchens of the houses are invaded, noisy and smoking. Once the animal has been skinned, its giblets (liver, heart, kidneys) are immediately threaded and eaten for lunch, while the sheep’s guts are often served at night.

The main dishes of Eid are kebabs, tagines, baked lamb shoulder, couscous, fruits and cakes.The afternoon will be devoted to visiting family or friends. The evening will be the occasion to eat couscous. The next day, the head of the sheep, after being roasted in a brazier to clean it, will be steamed and eaten. Similarly, only on that day will the meat begin to be eaten. 1/3 of the lamb should be offered to a modest person who has not been able to buy his own lamb. Eid is therefore above all a family festival, without any particular music or folklore.


As for the beginning of Ramandan, the exact date isn´t known beforehand because it is a lunar date, which depends on astronomical observation. It depends on the observation of the full moon, and marks the end of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

If you have recently settled in Morocco and this is your first Eid, you will discover a very special period, which is experienced differently depending on whether you are in a big city or a small town, a chic district or a popular area.

But you will also discover that everything stops, and that living Eid requires some preparation as well, when you are not a Muslim.

Firmly bound in a carriage, a sheep (without horn) on its way to its destination


Eid is a time of great expense: a good sheep costs between 2,500 and 3,000 dirhams. We are also used to offering gifts to children, buying new clothes to look as good as possible for the party.

In short, although this is not in keeping with the Muslim religion, many households take out consumer loans to be able to pay for their sheep. It is even a cause of chronic over-indebtedness, because poor households have difficulty making the payment before the next Eid…

Therefore, a bonus paid a few days before the party is welcome. By the way, this month, the officials will receive their salaries on the 16th, instead of at the end of the month, and you will receive a big standing call to do the same!

Of course, you will grant the three legal days of leave and easily accept the extensions or early departures that are usually requested by employees who are going to join their families and who want to make the trip by avoiding a bit of crowding.

All this applies, of course, to company employees as well as domestic staff.


The celebration usually requires the head of the family to slit the throat of the sheep himself, in memory of Abraham’s sacrifice.

Cutting a sheep’s throat and then slaughtering it is a real job that requires real knowledge. Many families in the city also subcontract the task to a butcher who goes from house to house. On the other hand, it is still rare for sheep to be slaughtered in the slaughterhouse, as is often done in Europe. The whole family witnesses the slaughter and cutting up of the sheep.

Therefore, the sheep are stored for a few days in the houses. In our building, the garage is transformed into a makeshift barn, and the bleating of the sheep surprises our cat, which wonders what we are doing.

But before that, the merchants take their animal to the market to sell it, display it on the street, and deliver it to the buyers. It’s time for the picturesque photos where we see the sheep being transported in cars, taxis, even on mopeds.

There are two schools for choosing a beautiful sheep: with or without horns. According to my husband, sheep with large horns are more beautiful but less tasty than sheep with small horns. I leave you to look and see what matters most to your neighbors: the quality of the meat or the appearance of the sheep.

And since everything is being modernized, you can now find classified ads for sheep on online sites, like Avito… that make their own lapub on Google (a bit misleading, I clicked and didn’t find sheep at such a low price).

Here, it’s the big horned sheep that’s been chosen!

As you can see, the big horned sheep has an advantage too, offering an easy grip for transport! (and to hold its head at the time of slaughter).

Officially, there are three holidays for Eid. But in practice, since it is an internal migration very similar to the weekend when exchanges take place between Jews and Aoûtists in France, and many people forget to book their tickets in advance, it often happens that people are absent for longer periods of time.

The ONCF (the Moroccan railways) and the bus companies arrange the schedules and add trains and buses. The big taxis are taken by the storm. On the other hand, there is no transport on the day of Eid.

In Casablanca, the area of the Ouled Ziane bus station is requisitioned for public prayer.


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