In Morocco and elsewhere in the Muslim world, Islamic holidays are among the most anticipated and celebrated days of the year. It holds especially true for Eid Al-Fitr, the holiday which marks the completion of Ramadan, a month of fasting, abstinence, extra prayer and other acts of worship.
Food Traditions for Eid Al-Fitr
Food is quite central to Moroccan culture and family life in general, so it does, of course, have a prominent role in the celebration of any holiday. Before the day of Eid, many women are busy in the kitchen preparing Moroccan cookies and pastries. Others choose to buy cookies and sweets from a local patisserie or bakery, or they might order sweets from a local woman who runs a home-based baking business.
Although any number of dishes might be prepared for an Eid dinner, common choices are couscous dishes, lamb or beef with prunes, chicken with preserved lemons and olives, chicken Bastilla or lamb or beef brochettes.
How Eid Al-Fitr is Celebrated in Morocco
Food aside, Eid Al-Fitr is first and foremost a religious holiday. For many Moroccans, then, the day begins quite early as many Muslims head out to their local mosque for a morning Eid sermon and congregational prayers.
Following the prayer, Eid Al-Fitr celebrations are traditionally low-key, family affairs in Morocco. Extended families may gather for festive meals, starting with spreads of food for breakfast and continuing through the main meal of the day; or individual families may choose to eat at home and then visit relatives in the afternoon and evening.
While gift-giving and decorating of homes and public spaces may be common in the West or other parts of the Muslim world, Moroccan holiday observances are not very commercialized. Gift exchanges are not commonplace, particularly among adults, but many families observe a tradition of buying new clothes for their children and less frequently toys or other small gifts. Children might also receive small gifts of money from relatives as they encounter them throughout the day.
To ensure that even the poor have the means to enjoy the holiday, all heads of household are obligated to donate food to the needy on behalf of each family member. The food usually takes the form of necessities and staples such as wheat or flour. This charity is called Zakat Al-Fitr or Sadaqa Al-Fitr and becomes due on the day of Eid Al-Fitr. Many families make their donations in the days preceding the Eid, however.