This week, Muslims around the world will be celebrating Eid al-Adha, which in Arabic means the festival of the sacrifice and is the longer and more significant of the two main Eid celebrations that Muslims observe.
Often called the 'big Eid', it’s a celebration of Prophet Abraham passing the test god gave him and marks the end of Hajj, a pilgrimage that is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Growing up in a Muslim household, the night before an Eid celebration was one of the most exciting nights of the year.
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As one of seven children, my mum had her work cut out for her on Eid eve.
She’d run around frantically trying to make sure our home was sparkling clean, getting all our special outfits ready and preparing an unnecessary amount of maamoul – a delicious Middle Eastern biscuit made during religious holidays.
She would also have to tame five very curly manes of hair – those were the days when literal clothing irons were used to achieve straight hair, way before the invention of the GHD, and let me tell you, it was not fun.
However, the special and exciting atmosphere around celebrating Eid made all the pulling and sizzling of our hair worth it.
Laying out our special outfits at the foot of our beds, sneaking a bite or two of maamoul dough and discussing all the ridiculous things we were going to do with the wads of cash we’d be given by our parents, grandparents, and extended family over the coming days – sleep was the last thing we wanted to do.
But my parents always aptly reminded us that if we didn’t sleep, we wouldn’t have enough energy to sustain the many activities planned for the next few days.
On Eid day we’d wake up at what felt like the crack of dawn, get all dressed up and head to the local mosque to take part in Eid prayer, which was always followed by gifts for all the kids, lots of maamoul, and juice boxes.
We’d then enjoy a big breakfast feast (at a restaurant if we were lucky) and visit, or be visited by, family. Cha-ching!
As I’ve grown older and have had to juggle work and social commitments alongside Eid visits, and become the giver rather than the receiver of the cash gifts, the excitement I once felt has dimmed.