Today, June 28, 2023, marks the start of the second major holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide, Eid al-Adha. This is a 4-day long celebration that coincides with the end of hajj, or pilgrimage.
Eid al-Adha translates to “Festival of Sacrifice” as it commemorates the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim’s son, Ismael, to God (Allah). During hajj, millions of Muslims gather in Mecca to perform specific rituals that Prophet Ibrahim and his family did, in addition to rituals taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that Muslims need to perform at least once in their lifetime, if possible.
Muslims who aren’t performing hajj celebrate Eid al-Adha in a similar manner to Eid al-Fitr. The day starts with a morning congregational prayer at the mosque (masjid), followed by celebrations with family and friends.
Foods consumed during Eid al-Adha vary by cultural regions and family traditions. Savory meals often served include some type of meat and rice dish, such as kabseh (meat and rice with carrots and spices), biryani (meat and rice dish cooked with spices that sometimes includes eggs and potatoes) or mansaf (meat cooked in yogurt sauce served on rice and nuts). Meats consumed are typically lamb, goat or beef. Consuming pork is prohibited in Islam.
In the Middle East, popular sweets include maamoul, which is a date- or nut-filled pastry, or baklava, known for its layers of phyllo and walnuts drizzled with syrup. Another popular sweet dish, kanafeh is shredded phyllo dough with white cheese baked until golden and drizzled with rose water syrup. South Asian specialties include saviya or sheer khurma, which are both vermicelli-based dishes cooked in milk and served hot or cold. In North Africa, sweet samosas, often filled with fruits and nuts, or phyllo “cigars” filled with sweet cream may be enjoyed. An assortment of butter cookies, nougat and Turkish delights often are served in many regions. Dates are commonly found in Muslim households and can be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into pastries including maamoul or sweet buns such as khaliat nahal in Yemen or kleicha in Iraq. Bean pie is a favorite option among some African American Muslim communities. Tea and coffee, especially Turkish coffee, are typically served with sweets.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Published by Ty Bishop.