Flocking to Egypt

There’s a curious phenomenon occuring in Egypt at the moment. Suddenly, without warning, the streets are awash with sheep. Ok, not awash, but in a city the size of Cairo, or even Alexandria (which I’ve heard Cairenes refer to as a ‘nice village’… with a population of six million), you just don’t expect to turn a street corner and be flattened by a flock of shaggy, long-tailed sheep.

They’re tall and lanky, in a motley of brown and cream (pink if they’ve just been shorn and dipped), with long ears, long noses and fat tails. They’re the sacrifice for the Feast, on 7 December. Eid al-Adha, the ‘great feast’ is bigger than the three-day hoop-la that followed Ramadam, and is a celebration of the occasion where Abraham accepted God’s/Allah’s wishes (depending on if you’re reading the story in the Ko’ran or the Bible) that he sacrifice his son in God’s name. At the last minute, knowing Abraham was true, God replaced the son with a ram, instead.

So now Egyptians celebrate by sacrificing a four-legged animal. If you’re rich, you’ll find yourself wrestling with a cow to slaughter and share with your family, friends and the poor. If you ARE the poor, you can choose another smaller approved animal – rabbits are a popular choice.

I’m sticking around for the Feast before I make my way home for our own feast-dominated celebration, Christmas!

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

5 thoughts on “Flocking to Egypt

  1. Hi belle,
    I have just read ur blog , I just would like to correct an information for u unless u r jocking (it doesn’t seem so),Rabbites is not allowed to be sacrifies in Adha feast . Sacrifies must be at least a sheep or even biger like cows or even camels. OK

  2. Hey Aladin, hmmm I’m going to go back to my source re: rabbits and take them to task! I saw a pile of cows being brought in around Saeda Zeinyab (sp) today, holding up the traffic. I had read about camels – where would you see that?

  3. Hi Belle, if you mean by the question “where would u see that?” the camels piles, u can see them in camels market at Immbaba in Giza (u r realy surprising me how could u know these places like Saed Zeinyab,u r amazing !) so of course u know Immbaba as well. BTW most of those camels there come from Sudan and they come on foot on a very long way trip

  4. Hey Aladin, you mean the camel market now out at Birquash – I think I posted a blog on that a while ago. It was amazing. No, I was thinking more on where to see camels being sacrificed. Though I don’t think I WANT to! Did a straw poll around a cross-section of Cairo friends who said rabbits are often sacrificed by the very poor, so I’m going to leave this one to stand, and see if I can find out more. Love your expertise, though it is always a bit daunting when locals read about their own town! b

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