Eid Al Adha 2023 in Morocco - Everything you need to know!
The biggest holiday in Morocco is upon us! The country relies on the physical sighting of the moon to determine its lunar calendar. According to the Hegira calendar, Eid Al Adha will fall on 10 Dhu Al Hijjah 1444, corresponding to the 29th of June, 2023.
We have put together some information on this religious holiday, and some tips on how to navigate this time in Morocco. Let us know how you are celebrating in the comment section below!
The Significance of Eid Al Adha:
Eid Al Adha holds a special place in Moroccan culture as it commemorates the story of Prophet Ibrahim's unwavering faith in God. Ibrahim, who had left his homeland, prayed for a virtuous son. God blessed him and his wife Hajar with Ismail when Ibrahim was 86 years old. As Ismail grew up, God tested Ibrahim's faith by requesting a sacrifice from Ismail. Ibrahim, obedient to God's command, was prepared to carry out the sacrifice. However, an angel intervened and replaced Ismail with a ram, hence symbolizing the festival of sacrifice.
When did this festival of Eid Al Adha first begin?
In 622 AD, Prophet Muhammad established the festival of Eid Al Adha to honour this significant event. Today, Muslims worldwide celebrate this festival, which is considered the second most important religious celebration after Eid Al Fitr. Whilst Eid Al Adha brings joy and festivities, it is also a time for self-reflection, spiritual renewal, seeking forgiveness, and making resolutions for the upcoming year.
Preparations for Eid Al Adha in Morocco:
Although Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid Al Adha, each country, including Morocco, has its unique customs and traditions associated with the occasion. In Morocco, preparations for Eid Al Adha begin a week - or even earlier before the actual holiday. Families spend time cleaning their homes, stocking up on fresh spices, fruits and vegetables, as the markets and stores usually remain closed for some time. New clothes are purchased for everyone in the family. A crucial part of the preparations is acquiring a sheep or goat for the traditional sacrifice. This tends to be what most of the money for this period is spent on. The chosen animal is kept in the family's courtyard or balcony, and during this time, family members take care of and feed it.
The Day of Eid Al Adha:
There is definitely a unique buzz in the air as everyone eagerly awaits the arrival of the big day. The day begins with Takbir, a Muslim ritual that involves proclaiming the greatness of God. In the morning, families dress in traditional Moroccan attire, such as the “Djellaba" to attend the special Eid prayer held in mosques or open spaces throughout the country. Led by an imam, the prayer involves recitations and prostrations. Following the prayer, people greet each other with "Eid Mubarak," meaning "Blessed Eid," before returning home for breakfast.
First breakast (Ftour):
The breakfast on Eid Al Adha is a special affair, with families preparing traditional Moroccan pastries like sweet fekkas with almonds and beghrir (Moroccan crepe with tiny holes), and msemmen (flaky Moroccan pancake). Homemade bread and Moroccan mint tea complete the spread. One of the most beloved pastries during this time is the kaab el ghazal (meaning Gazelle horns), a crescent-shaped cookie filled with almond paste and dusted with powdered sugar.
After breakfast, the family prepares for the animal sacrifice. Following the Islamic ritual and saying a prayer, the animal is slaughtered using a sharp knife. It is then divided into three parts: one-third for the family, one-third for friends and neighbours, and one-third donated to the poor. Some individuals choose to directly give the entire sheep to those in need.
In Moroccan households, women traditionally clean the slaughtered animals. They then prepare special holiday dishes using different parts of the sheep and a blend of spices. These dishes are usually prepared only once or twice a year, coinciding with the opportunity to slaughter a sheep.
Delicious Moroccan Dishes for Eid Al Adha:
In the morning, Moroccan sweets and cookies are served alongside Moroccan mint tea. However, for the following three days, the main focus is on the meat. Moroccans cherish their meat-centric meals during this period, considering it an integral part of their culture.
The meat from the sacrifice is used to create a variety of mouthwatering dishes for the Eid Al Adha feast, which takes center stage during the celebrations. The feast is typically held in the afternoon and showcases a range of traditional Moroccan delicacies.
One popular dish is boulfaf, skewered and grilled lamb liver and heart wrapped in caul fat, seasoned with salt and cumin, and served with tea and homemade bread. For dinner, a slow-cooked stomach and meat stew called tkelia, with garlic and tomatoes, is prepared. The second day features brain in spiced tomato sauce and garlic with eggs, while dinner consists of grilled shoulder meat marinated in chermoula—a spice blend of cumin, onions, paprika, salt, and pepper. On the third day, a main dish called mrouzia, a lamb tagine with raisins and fried almonds sweetened with a touch of honey is prepared.
Mechoui is another beloved dish during Eid Al Adha. It involves slow-roasting lamb Moroccan-style (barbecue) and serving it with bread, tea, and side dishes like salad, zaalouk (roasted eggplants in tomato sauce with garlic and cumin), and marinated olives.
Pros of being in Morocco during Eid Al Adha:
Visiting Morocco during Eid Al Adha offers a unique cultural experience that will definitely leave a lasting impression! This festive and family-oriented holiday, showcases the best of Moroccan traditions. The sumptuous and delicious meals, the joy of family reunions, and the vibrant celebrations all contribute to the allure of this time. If fortunate enough to spend Eid Al Adha with a Moroccan family, a single meal will become an unforgettable experience!
With many Moroccans spending their holidays with their families, Eid Al Adha provides an opportunity for those seeking a quieter escape. It is an ideal time to explore less crowded beaches, national parks, and nature reserves. However, careful planning, particularly regarding transportation, is essential to ensure a smooth trip. Acquiring tickets in advance will help avoid congestion and delays during the holiday season. Ensure to check what is open during this period!
With the current soaring temperatures in Morocco, be sure to carry sufficient water and sun protection with you if walking outdoors or exploring as you may find many places closed to buy any basics.
Cons of being in Morocco during Eid Al Adha:
Expect crowded modes of transport, such as trains and buses, and heavy traffic just before and after the holiday. Many people travel to visit their families, causing congestion. It is advisable to plan accordingly and be prepared for longer travel times.
During the holiday, especially on the first day, many establishments will be closed. If not staying with a Moroccan family, it is recommended to stick to metropolitan cities like Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Rabat, or Tangier. These cities offer better chances of finding open restaurants and hotels catering to travellers. While some stores close only for the first day, it is wise to make prior arrangements and purchase train or bus tickets in advance. As certain places may be shut you can indulge in a hammam (Moroccan spa) experience in your riad or hotel and plan your dinners in advance.
Most shops, cafes, and restaurants close at least in the morning, and some for a day or two. We generally find in the major cities, that once lunchtime passes, local hanuts (corner shops), reopen and people fill the streets as the evening draws near as being indoors (especially in the current heat), becomes too much! Popular tourist places such as Jmaa El Fnaa in Marrakech and the seafront by Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca tend to draw the crowds to outdoor spaces and you will find some places open around these attractions.
Locals enjoy lavish lamb feasts during this time. Since many restaurants are closed, it is advisable to book a dinner at your riad for the first night of your holiday.
If you are in Morocco during this time and find yourself at a loss as to what to do, DO NOT hide indoors!! Get outside, talk to the locals, show your interest and we can 100% guarantee you will be invited over to enjoy the festivities with the locals!
Eid Al Adha is a time of joy, generosity, and community spirit in Morocco. Whether through sharing meals with loved ones, giving to the less fortunate, or reflecting on the teachings of Islam, this holiday holds immense significance for Moroccans of all backgrounds and ages. To experience this firsthand, visiting Morocco during Eid Al Adha is definitely worth putting on your bucket list!!