This weekend is Kurban Bayram, or Eid Al-Adha, or the Great Sacrifice Holiday, in the Muslim world. This is based on the biblical and Koran accounts of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son. In the tradition of Abraham, each head of household sacrifices an animal. One third of the meat is for eating during the holiday, one third is given to friends and family, and the last third is given to charity. This ratio and what to do with the meat varies by tradition, but rest assured that the meat is generally eaten and not just killed. I guess it’s not much different than every American family eating a turkey or two for Thanksgiving, and there the meaning is a little more obscure.
Before the holiday, we saw a lot of signs advertising animal shares, where a bunch of brothers or friends go in together to get a bigger, fancier animal, like a cow. As you can tell by the cartoons below, all of which basically say Happy Sacrifice Holiday, the common animals are either sheep or goat.
Ankara’s authorized killing fields are outside of the city. Last night on the news I learned that the fee for killing an animal yourself, outside of the approved sanitary facilities, is 169 TL, which is about $73. So, depending on your financial situation, it might be worthwhile to take the risk and just DIY. A friend on facebook reported seeing lots of roadside sacrifices as she was touring the outskirts of the city today. Thankfully I haven’t seen anything in my pleasant corner of Ankara. I still remember the nauseating smell of the sheep being brought into Antalya, a resort town, days before the holiday two years ago.
Since the main purpose of the holiday has become charity, a lot of people choose to donate money instead of sacrificing an animal.
The other tradition of the holiday is to visit friends and family. Today, this means take a vacation back to your hometown, or just take a vacation if you’re not so religious. Like major holidays back in the States, roads are busy and public transportation is both booked and more expensive over the holiday period. From the news reporting on the country’s road situation, I also learned that police doing standard traffic stops are first offering chocolate, then getting to the business of discussing the fines. It’s festive, right?
Since I have very few religious friends, I don’t have any personal experience with the holiday. Last year I almost went to one of the sacrifice facilities with a friend’s dad, but decided on a vacation to a beach in the south instead. Somehow I think I’ll always make the choice for sun over sacrifice.
Ironically, this year’s Kurban Bayram falls on the same day as World Animal Day.