Sunday, January 4, 2009

مبروك العيد أمكر

That transliterated in English is “mbruk leid amkor” which translates to English as happy big Eid! And your response should be الله يبارك فيك which transliterates to “llay bark fik” which means “may god grant you peace.” Anyhow, that was Tuesday, December 9, and oh so crazy but wonderful. Last year I was still in homestay at this time, if you remember, and it was not the happy holiday it should have been. So this year, far more integrated into my community, and free to roam about, I was able to visit many homes and it was one of the best holidays ever! I’m not going to describe Eid in all its glory, you can look it up, but if you don’t know already it’s the big Muslim holiday where every family slaughters a sheep.

I went to my counterpart’s family’s house first for the celebratory big bready breakfast prior to the slaughter. I thought that morning of how most Americans would pass out at the sight-some 5 or 6 forms of bread for breakfast. Sfinj-donut shaped dough dropped and fried in oil, harsha-the cornbread type cake, milowee-big, flat, fried squares of a simple bread dough, lmscoota- any kind of pond cake type thing, anyhow, lots of carbs washed down with hot sugary milk or hot sugary tea.

After a couple quick other stopovers for cookies and tea and mbrukin’ I headed to my host family’s house. We had a ram this year (all the joyous pictures are on facebook by the way, so you have to go there if you want to see them) and I hung out and watched the gutting. Oddly, I wasn’t disgusted at all, it’s actually pretty interesting. Honestly the moment I got nauseous was when I had to start eating it. Both sheep and goat have very distinct flavors, odd as it sounds, you can taste the way they smell which is hard for someone generally so far removed from their foods origins. But since reading so much lately on farming, and now being over a year into living and breathing next door to all my foods, this practice was quite beautiful to me. The sheep was raised in my site, and lived a very sheepy life- it ate grass, in sunshine, rain and snow and lived among a herd of its own. Still, I did get a taste of our own level of pollution here; when my sister cut open the larger stomach, among the usual half digested grasses was, in pieces, an entire plastic bag. Ugh. After a very sheep heavy meal I headed out for more mbrukin’ throughout the town. By the end of the night, well after midnight, and with henna on my hands I counted up the glasses of tea I’d consumed that day: 12. I’ve no idea how I still have my teeth.

We also got our first dose of boojlood the afternoon of Eid. I only got to observe a bit of it last year, but this year it was a multiple day affair. I don’t know if it’s a tradition among all Berbers, but certainly here. Every few houses join their fresh sheep skins into a big costume, making a good 15 or so of these scary things among the community, then these guys put on odd masks. A few others dress up like witches and some younger boys put together similar costumes made of plastic flour or grain sacks. Then of course there are the camels, made out of blankets and a real skull and two or three guys underneath. This pack of odd and frightening characters travel throughout the community with drummers, taking coins and scaring or messing with people. I honestly got pretty scared, one camel snipped my arm, and one boojlood, because of the lax circumstance, asked me to marry him. But it was fun and we got some good pictures. So we may not have Halloween or Santa or whatever here, but I personally feel pretty darn special, what would you give to see a bunch of boys marching through town in recently killed sheep pelts? It’s also pretty stinky. It was fun and I felt a pang in my heart for it likely being the last Eid I’ll ever celebrate, certainly my last with boojlood.

Also, in addition to mbruk leid, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Whatever you celebrate I hope it was wonderful and you could share it with people you love, in person or in spirit!

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