Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, follows Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to the lunar Islamic calendar, it falls on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah (Arafat Day), so the date changes by approximately 11 days on the Gregorian calendar each year. This time around, the expected Eid ul-Adha dates are August 20 and August 21.
Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha in various ways that adhere to their particular culture. However, one thing that remains constant (in the UAE and throughout the globe) is what an exciting time this is for children. They eagerly await the dawn of the first day of Eid when they get to wear new clothes, often national dress items such as the Kandoura for boys.
Another reason for the excitement is that children are gifted money throughout the holiday. After the Eid prayer, they visit relatives and friends with their family. The aim: to collect as much eidia as possible. The term ‘eidia‘ refers to the monetary gifts young people receive over Eid.
Adults are often gifted new clothes as well. The perfect time to wear these presents is while meeting people throughout the holiday. Although friends and colleagues don’t usually hand out money to adults, some family members still find that appropriate.
“Parents, uncles and aunts often give even grown-ups eidia as they still see them as kids,” Hind Bin Demaithan, Director of the Events Department at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HCC), tells Culture Trip.
Special sweet treats handed out by neighbours and loved ones are enjoyed by both kids and adults. Because it’s quite time consuming to prepare edible gifts (such as pistachio cookies, baklava, and date cookies), fine dates are a popular choice. Date palms tend to thrive in the Middle East as the climate is hot, so businesses market a broad range of date boxes around this time. Covered with chocolate, stuffed with nuts, dark and fleshy, or light and fine – there’s practically every type of date you can think of.
On Eid, Muslims invite friends and colleagues, regardless of their faith, to dine at home. Every household that can afford to do so purchases a domestic animal (usually a cow or sheep) to be sacrificed after Hajj. Usually, one-third of the meat is eaten by the family, and the majority is distributed among the needy. The animal is significant because in the Quran, Ibrahim’s faith was tested when he was ordered to sacrifice his only son.
Although Eid al-Adha gifts have become more in tune with modern times and are suited to the individual’s style and taste, the HHC is trying to hold on to traditions with their offerings.
“Gifts are now branded at HHC and can be anything from traditional sweets, toys and gadgets to pouches with AED coins inside,” Demaithan explains. “The latter is a model we have followed at HHC in the past few years to revive this tradition and sustain it as a part of our cultural heritage.”
According to Demaithan, this time of bonding plays an important role and helps people reflect positively on their communities. By coming up with mascots that express their national identity, values and sentiments, the HCC hopes that children will keep the Eid traditions alive and remain patriotic, ambitious, innovative and generous.
“For the purpose of passing on the Emirati heritage to children, we have launched two mascots, Omeir and Ghbeisha, to appear at various malls and public places during Eid and other occasions,” she adds.