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11/28/09 Mbruk l'3id!

Mbruk l'3id! Mbruk l-washer!

Translation: Blessings of the Feast! Blessings of the holiday!

A more idiomatic translation would be Happy [Insert Name of Holiday]! Happy Holidays!

I went over to my host family's house yesterday evening, carrying food and gifts. I distributed the gifts - Beanie Babies, a blow-up map of the heavens, and a Jenga knock off - which were enthusiastically played with throughout the evening.

The Jenga knock-off lasted through a few rounds of Jenga-style play (as I played with each of my host brothers in turn), and then immediately got adapted, in yet another display of Moroccan creativity: my brothers realized something I never did, which is that Jenga is made up of BLOCKS. Wooden blocks. All of the same size.

So they promptly began building walls and towers and domino-style chains of blocks (which, when knocked over, would usually crash into one of the towers for maximum destructive fun) and other structures that made sense only to them. The older boy was even more into it than the younger; I really think he'll be an engineer one day.

Then I took a pre-holiday shower in their guest house - the main house doesn't have running water at all - then ate dinner and got painted up with henna. Ama wrapped up my now-immobilized hands and tucked me into bed.

In the morning, I dressed up in my zween 3id outfit - almost entirely consisting of clothes inherited from my departed sitemate, since the whole point of 3id clothes is that they be *new* (or at least new to you), then went on the usual round of 3id visits.

I stopped by the homes of two neighbors and various aunts and cousins, before winding up at my 3mmi's house for the Feast Of Meat.

We ate sheep organs wrapped in fat and intestines. Mmmm. The family has accepted that I'm a vegetarian, but they expect me to make a concession just this once per year (it's for God!), so I do, as gracefully as I can. So I ate a few shish-kebab'd pieces of barbequed organ meat For The Cause, and called it a day.

I'm stuffed to the gills, with all the tea, cookies, bread, more tea, more cookies, more tea, more cookies, and organ meat that I've eaten today...I have leftover mashed potatoes that I was planning to eat for dinner, but I'm now thinking that I may never eat again.

Today's holiday is formally known as 3id al-Adha - the Feast of the Sacrifice (referring to Abraham's almost-sacrifice of Ishmael [[that's how the Qur'an tells it - in the Old Testament, it's Isaac]] and to a lesser degree to the sacrifice of a ram that is expected from every household). Informally, it's known as 3id al-Kebir in Arabic or 3id Akhatar in Tamazight, both meaning The Big Feast.

The 3id we celebrated two months ago, at the end of Ramadan, is known as 3id al-Saghir / 3id Amzayant, both meaning The Small Feast. Formally, it's 3id al-Ftor, the Feast of Fast-Breaking.

Like Thanksgiving and Christmas in America, they're both about sharing food and good times with family and friends...and that's pretty much where the similarities end.

Organ meat, anyone?

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