Celebrating Yom Arafah and Eid al-Adha

Last Tuesday Muslims around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha which in English means the Festival of Sacrifice. It’s is also know as Eid Kabir or Greater Eid (see my post here about Eid al-Fitr or Little Eid). It honours the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, before God intervened and provided a sheep for Abraham to sacrifice instead.

Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of month of Dhu al-Hijjahย which is the last month of the year according to the Islamic calendar which is lunar based calendar. In the week leading up to Eid al-Adha farmers set up pens of sheep all around townย or have their livestock in the back of their pickups/small trucks for people to be able buy and which they will kill on the day emulating Abraham’s sacrifice.


The 9th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah is known as Yom Arafah (Day of Arafah) and it is traditional for Muslims to fast on this day.

This year we were invited to attend the breaking of the fast for Yom Arafah with all the Amra family at the family Diwan (hall). Just before sunset time we all gathered together – I estimate that there would have been approximately 300 family members counting the men, women and children in attendance.


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One of Atef’s cousins and uncles had spent all day preparing the meal. We ate mansaf made with chicken and this was served with rice. They had prepared and cooked 50 chickens and 10kg of rice in order to feed everyone. And when I say prepare the chickens it’s not like in Australia where you go to the butchers and place an order for 50 chickens cut into pieces and when you pick it up it’s ready to cook, instead Atef’s Uncle and Cousin first killed, then plucked, then cleaned and then cut up 50 chickens before they started cooking.

At a later stage I will do a post on Mansaf, which is normally made with lamb. The reason that we ate the Mansaf with chicken is that for Eid al-Adha it is customary in remembrance of Abraham’s sacrifice to kill a goat/sheep and then share the meat among family members, your neighbours and the with those less fortunate. The killing of the goats/sheep takes place in the early hours of the morning of Eid al-Adha so on the day before Eid al-Adha we enjoyed a meal of Mansaf with chicken.

The chicken is simmered in the yoghurt sauce for a few hours until it is tender and then served on a bed of rice topped with parsley and toasted nuts. The yoghurt sauce is added on top and as people are eating to complete the dish.



Even at family functions the men and women congregate and eat separately. The men all stand around the tables upon which a large platter of mansaf is placed and eat in the traditional manner with their hands.

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After the chicken mansaf it was time for Kanafeh, which is a Levantine cheese pastry soaked in a sugar syrup. To feed the masses 10 large trays were ordered from one of the local bakeries.


The following day for Eid al-Adha people dress in new or their very best clothes and spend the day visiting family. It’s not quite to the extent of the visiting for Eid al-Fitr, but still a day to spend with family and friends.

Alia and some of her cousins.


Heading off to go visiting. Alia insisted that all the cousins hold hands. She might be the youngest one of the four, but she was most definitely the one in charge!

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Alia in her new outfit chosen by Daddy.


14 responses to “Celebrating Yom Arafah and Eid al-Adha

  1. Alia is a little doll, so cute! I’ve plucked and gutted chickens and know what it involves. 50? No, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for taking the time to explain these 2 holy days and the customs that surround them.

    • Thanks John, I’m a little biased but I think that she’s a cutie! Yes can you imagine the noise and the smell and mess from 50 chickens! I’m glad that I wasn’t there for that part of the day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m very glad that I only had to help out with the eating part of the 50 chickens and not the preparation ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you – Alia is at the age where she is starting to pick out the clothes that she wants to wear and that is her “party” dress.

  2. Naw! Alia just keeps getting more and more gorgeous. Love that photo of her with her ‘assertive face’ on! She’s going to change the world just like her mum one day (I keep imagining you with a whole train of Jordanian women, running around the block! Ha!).
    Wow. THREE HUNDRED family members!! Counting both Aaron and my families, we only have a total of about… 15 here in Australia? Some extended family overseas but the total would still be under 35 I think!!
    I love the sound of the beautiful food. You’re completely right, most of us here in Australia have completely detached ourselves from the fact that our meat was once a living creature that needed to be slaughtered. Sad? Possibly. I guess it leads to a bit of irresponsibility when it comes to waste etc. Convenience isn’t advantageous in every respect! I’m fascinated with the food culture in Jordan… communal platters, sharing life together, separation but togetherness at the same time. In lots of ways it’s awesome but I imagine it’d be challenging too. Love this post A xx

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