As we were driving around Amman the other night and the jolly Christmas lights and decorations glared from the balconies of apartments and doors of homes, my friend wondered out loud why there’s so much emphasis on Christmas but not on Eid Al-Adha. My initial response was not all that well thought out as I suggested that perhaps it’s because we as Muslims get two major eventful days while Christians only one. I know Easter is another though I’m referring more to the celebratory ones. Nevertheless, the sudden observation lingered in my head for a while.
For, as my friend pointed out, Muslims have not made any sort of attempt to commemorate Eid Al-Adha, when of the two Eids’ it is also known as Eid il-Kbeer, or the “Big Eid”, compared to the end of Ramadan’s Eid il-Fitr, also known as Eid il-Sgeer, or the “Small Eid”. It is called as such due to the obvious fact that religiously speaking, the former carries more weight and is more significant. Yet, since I can remember, when it comes to celebrations, it’s the former that has always been more lively.
I always figured it was because the small Eid meant the month of fasting was over and we could finally eat, food qualifying as more of a life goal to Arabs, and Jordanians in particular. Perhaps it’s also because an entire religious-based month precedes it, so there’s this big anticipation and preparation for it, while Eid Al-Adha almost comes out of the blue. Even the more religious who might be a bit more aware of it on a conscious level, who tend to welcome Dhul Hijja with a fast, will not be as keen on celebration.
There is really no associated festive culture to Eid Al-Adha.
Eid in Amman usually means people talk about where they’ll be going. But even this time around, I’m not hearing a whole lot of vacation-talk. The only chatter about Eid is the inevitable but temporary confusion over what days will we all get off from work. Maybe it’s because things have become too expensive, or maybe because it has fallen in winter these past years.
Christmas has become a bit more festive in recent years with importation of all the foreign decorative goods. Even Ramadan and Eid il-Fitr has only become a bit more festive fairly recently. Perhaps a few decades from now when Eid il-Fitr and Christmas meet again, a more festive culture will have developed by then in Jordan.
All that being said, and this is neither here nor there, but I do miss Christmas in Toronto. I do miss the decorations, the colors and the Christmas carols that play through the shopping mall speakers, which inevitably become quite annoying by the 24th.