Eid Al-Adha in Morocco (Eid Al-Kabir)

Moroccan Traditions for the Festival of the Sacrifice

Sheep Market in Morocco
Thomas Dressler/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Eid Al-Adha is referred to as Eid Al-Kabir—the "Big Holiday"—because of its tremendous significance to Muslims. One of two main Islamic holidays, it marks the end of hajj rituals and traditionally lasts for three days. Feasting and visiting friends and family are integral to the celebration.

When Is Eid Al-Adha?

Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The days of the week it is celebrated change each year. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, it has only 354 to 355 days and the Western (Gregorian) calendar date of the feast falls 11 days earlier each year. Therefore, depending on what year you visit Morocco, it may be celebrated in August, July, June (or even earlier past 2025).

Significance

Eid Al-Adha translates to "Festival of Sacrifice" and commemorates Prophet Abraham's willingness to obey God when he envisioned that he was to sacrifice his son. As he attempted to carry out the sacrifice as an act of faithful submission, God stopped him and commanded that he sacrifice a ram instead. Muslims observe this day by likewise slaughtering an animal—a sheep, goat, cow or camel—according to humane Islamic guidelines (zabiha), and then offering much of its meat in charity.

Although the sacrificial slaughter is incumbent upon only those who can afford it, many poor families in Morocco borrow money so that they can sacrifice a sheep or goat of their own. This is because the real significance of the day is not the slaughter itself, but that a Muslim follow Abraham's example of faithful obedience to God.

Eid al-Adha prayers are offered at the local mosque, and participants usually dress in their best clothing for this ceremony. After prayers, it is common to visit friends and family and share meals together. Non-Muslims may also be invited to these celebrations. This is a busy travel time (much like American Thanksgiving) and you can expect congested highways and trains. As well, it's a joyous time and you will see happy and smiling faces.

Moroccan Food Traditions at Eid Al-Adha

Every Muslim country and culture have its own traditions that surround Eid Al-Adha. In Morocco, sweets and cookies are prepared in advance for the special day and new clothes purchased for the children.

After congregational Eid prayers on the first morning of the holiday, families either convene for the slaughter or do it individually at their own homes. Prior to the slaughter, they will enjoy a breakfast with such traditional fare as herbel (wheat and milk soup), msemen, harcha, beghrir, and krachel.

It's Moroccan tradition to prepare organ meats such as the liver and heart on the day of the slaughter. Subsequent days include more meat-intensive dishes (such as mechoui, steamed lamb, and Mrouzia) that might be too expensive to serve other times of the year.

Moroccans tend to be very frugal, and there are special dishes which use the head, tail, intestines, stomach, and feet. Even the brains, fat, and testicles don't go to waste.

Recipes for Eid Al-Adha will give you more ideas of how Moroccans prepare and cook meat at this special time.