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Eid El Adha: How much bloodshed is too much for a toddler?

We have just returned from our very first celebration of Eid El Adha; the Muslim celebration of the sacrifice, where God replaced Abraham’s soon to be unfortunate son with a ram.  In remembrance, any Muslim with the means to buy a ram, goat or cow (cost goes by the kilo and in Morocco, the standard sheep will set you back about $250-$300) brings one home to slaughter after morning prayer.

We were very excited to experience this unique cultural celebration and being a meat eating family of the first order, figured we had no excuse for being squeamish when an animal took the first step towards being dinner. 

However, we were less sure about what our 20 month old would think about seeing a “baaaa” or “eeeep” getting its throat ceremonially cut.  In Rabat, it is traditional that the “gourgement” happens after the King has slit his own two rams (one for his family, one for the population who can’t afford their own).  This is televised so we got a sneak peak and how it was about to go down, live and in person in the courtyard of our friend’s family home.  

Vegetarians….read no further….

The forceful explosion of blood that the King brought forth pretty much put the nail in the coffin of any hesitation we had about letting the baby see the real deal.  Especially against the white robes and marble floor of the Mosque, the blood was vividly crimson and plentiful.  

So when our friend Majid brought in the first ram, I hung back in the doorway with the baby.  This was much to the consternation of the family 10 year old who wanted to know how I expected the baby to ever get used to it if he didn’t see if from early on.  

Since our move to Morocco isn’t permanent, I figure I can spare the baby this particular toughening up.  But it did make me wonder how many American kids would have the stomach to ride a ram around the garden one minute, and then help cook his liver on the BBQ the next (as the family’s 3 and 7 year olds did).  Then again, is that really a quality I want to see in my kid?  Is it callousness, or realism?  I’m not sure.  But I think at least I’ll leave the blood letting out, at least until he turns two….. or at least stops liking Shaun the Sheep quite to much.

Filed under traditions muslim holidays eid el ada morocco

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