The big holiday

Two days before the slaughter, one neighbor’s sheep glances up as I’m perched on the roof.

Our country celebrated the “Big Holiday” last month.  Every household is required to slaughter a sheep to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram instead of his son.  This is a time rich in culture and tradition.

The days before are busy with buying spices, skewers, charcoal, and the prized ram. Getting the ram home proves to be a trick!  We’ve seen them stuffed in trunks of cars, riding in three-wheeled rented vehicles, and in between a man and his wife on a motor scooter (I closed my eyes as we saw that one, I thought for sure he would buck and leave them in a heap!). It has a slight feel of secular Christmas in America–people hustling and shopping, (the sheep like our Christmas tree), making sweets, and wishing everyone a happy holiday.

Our neighbors across the street invited us to their home. The couple’s grown children came for the event, the daughter to help with the preparations. They found a butcher (in high demand this day) who brought his knife and slit the sheep’s throat.  I didn’t look at that point, so there is no photo!  After the sheep died, the butcher did several things. One was blowing up the sheep.

IMG_1964He blew up the sheep like a balloon!  This makes it easy to get the hide off.  I giggle to myself every year at this point.  Once, I saw an advertising billboard here showing a blown-up sheep floating away.  I giggled at that too!

IMG_1971The kids have viewed the slaughter through the years as informative and fascinating. (Though this year one child opted out saying, “I don’t like the smell of sheep!”)  The first year when they were quite young, Patrick, the enthusiast, had them check it all out up close and personal.  One year the hostess blew up the lung to play with like a balloon (Elizabeth, the literary enthusiast, recalled that that occurred in Little House on the Prairie too).  We’ve seen Moroccan kids dance around full of excitement like kids on Christmas morning. After this photo was taken, they sent the head and the hooves to neighborhood kids who on their makeshift bonfire-grill, char off the hair and then return the items.

IMG_1975With the inards removed and saved to be eaten later, the carcass “hung out” on the patio.

IMG_1974I sat with the dear grandma and made some brochettes.  The skewers on the right are liver and lung pieces wrapped in fat.  The skewers in the back are heart.  The white mass in the front is fat.  This fat is usually seen hanging on clothes lines to dry a bit before put with the liver.

The barbeque finished and we dined on these delicacies with some life-giving salads while watching television.  This is the first year that the hosts told us not to eat the fat, that it’s not good for you.  In years past when I’ve eaten the liver AND fat and felt quesy about a half hour later, I always thought it was the sheep’s liver that did it.  The world may never know.

All in all it was a relaxed day spent with generous and kind neighbors, a small peek into their world.

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