Which means congratulations on the arrival of a solemn festival. Tuesday will start the four day long Eid Al Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), which is an Islamic holiday that celebrates Ibrahim (Abraham) willingness to obey Allah and sacrifice his first son Ishmail.
In this story Allah intervened with the ram only after Ibrahim stabbed Ishmail. Ibrahim was blindfolded and after he stabbed his son, he took off his blindfold and there lied a dead ram in front of him, and his son was standing at his side.
How is this holiday celebrated?
Animals are sacrificed to commemorate the story. Last year, around this time, we saw flyers in our supermarkets that advertised both the selling and slaughtering of animals. I believe that sheep are most commonly sacrificed here as my students kept drawing sheep and making reference to the animal during our celebrations at school last week.
Since Ibrahim is also known as rebuilding the Ka’aba (a very sacred monument in Mecca), Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) is also highly regarded during this time.
My students told me that this holiday, for children, is like our Christmas. From the exchanging of gifts perspective I too viewed this holiday that way. I, however, was super shocked that my students actual said it since Christian holidays aren’t acknowledged in this country and Western teachers are forbidden to discuss it in the classroom. I heard that one teacher was written up because she made a work packet for the winter break and one worksheet had Christmas trees on it. But I digress; children receive gifts, chocolates, and money during this holiday.
As with any celebration here, henna is really popular. Artist were invited to our school to create henna designs for the both the teachers and female students during our Eid celebration assembly on Thursday. While I usually decline, I decided to go with it this time.
Mila and Aaron’s school also celebrated Eid on Thursday. Children were invited to wear their “party clothes” and bring finger foods. Upon picking them up their teachers handed me cards that they were assisted in making for the holiday.
When I first got the cards, I didn’t think anything of them. However, I did sit later and ponder about how I felt about my children painting mosque and other important symbols within Islam. I have come to the conclusion that I am not bothered by it at all. We pray that being here will allow our children to say I was taught about Christ and chose him for myself. The cards did, however, validate my beliefs that the US is definitely not a Christian country. Not that I needed further validation but, I can assure you that your child will not leave a public school with a painted church or cross during Easter.
How does this holiday affect us?
Well, we are off all of next week and our children’s school is closed as well. Since holidays/festivals are both religious and family orientated, there are a lot of festivals and happenings in the country that are child friendly. For example, we will be attending “Kidsfest” in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Mila will be able to ride on carnival rides, jump in bouncy houses, and have her face painted just to name a few things. There are also family festivals at beaches throughout our emirate (Abu Dhabi) and Dubai’s.