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!