This week is the celebration of Kurban Bayram, or “Sacrifice Holiday,” a key religious and secular holiday that shows gratitude to God for sending to Abraham a ram to be sacrificed in his son’s stead.
During this holiday, people visit loved one’s graves, visit with family and friends, and go to mosque, even those who generally don’t go. Children also may kiss the hands of the elderly as a sign of respect, and the elderly, in response, often gift the children with sweets or money.
Kurban Bayram is about giving thanks to God and an affirmation of one’s faith, as well as to show social responsibility for those less fortunate. As such, every adult who can afford it is expected to sacrifice a goat or sheep for the occasion. The meat is divided among the household that sacrificed the animal; friends and family; and to people in need who cannot afford a sacrifice, a luxury for many who do not have the means to buy meat.
I have been told that while the sacrificial process generally occurs in designated areas, there is the possibility that one could be witness to a goat or sheep being sacrificed as you walk down the street or past someone’s backyard. In fact, one travel guide recommends that those who are “squeamish” be aware.
Squeamish. That would be me. Despite being raised by a duck, turkey, deer and bear hunter (all in one), I just never got accustomed to seeing a gutted animal strung from the garage rafter. After all, Bambi was one of my favorite movies growing up. Even now, if there is a bug inside the house, I take it outside instead of killing it.
(The truth of the matter is that I am a cowardly carnivore. If I had to acquire meat myself – i.e. hunt and kill an animal – I would become a vegetarian in a heartbeat…ok, I could manage fish but forget anything with fur.)
So, while this holiday is about religious affirmation and social responsibility, given my squeamishness and the possibility, however slight, that I could witness bloodletting when I venture out, it’s pretty clear what I’ll be doing during the holidays.