The first time I prayed ‘Eid (ul-Fitr) in Algeria was in a small masjid, well it felt small because there were so many women ma shaa Allah. The second time I prayed it (‘Eid ul-Adha) was in a bigger masjid, not far from home, and that was the best ‘Eid prayer I have ever attended, because of the imam recitation, may Allah preserve him!
Many of us living in the west, and maybe with a ‘not so traditional’ background, are used to spend ‘Eids with other sisters, or making the day ‘special’ for the kids. There are masajid organising ‘fun’ events for sisters and children so many of us get really involved and find the day of ‘Eid itself being hectic and exciting!
But when we get the chance of spending ‘Eid in Algeria or when we move to Algeria for good (alhamdulillah) we find that the day of ‘Eid is very different from what we are used to. Some sisters find it a bit boring, some enjoy the cakes preparation, some get busy in cleaning the house (in Algeria) and some find it simply ‘different’.
In Algeria, ‘Eids are really ‘family orientated’ of course, ma shaa Allah. To some sisters from Southern Europe, it reminds them of the ‘old days’ when they were young, spending the holidays with their families; with aunties, uncles and cousins coming to visit or meeting at the grandparents house. This is exactly what happens in Algeria ma shaa Allah and that is normal when you live in a country where ‘the family’ plays such an important role, ma shaa Allah alhamdulillah!.
Women sit together and the coffee tables are covered by all sorts of cakes (gateaux). Plenty (yes, I think we talk about litres!) of coffee is served during the day of ‘Eid and the days that follow. Algerian women start to bake cakes days before the day of ‘Eid. During the summer hot (very hot) days they prefer (for obvious reasons) to bake in the evening, maybe after ‘isha, when the air is a bit fresher. So you can smell ‘gateaux’, almonds… orange blossom water… hmmm ma shaa Allah, smell of celebration!.
Talking of orange blossom water or those kinds of waters used in the algerian cakes, here again, I have noticed that many people are not fan of it. I personally like it, it actually reminds me of the days when I was a child and my mum used to make cakes for some religious celebrations, somewhere there in Southern Europe )) . So yes, if Algerian women use those waters is because it’s part of their tradition, it is an essential ingredient and in shaa Allah it will be a sweet memory for their kids when they grow up, just as it is for me.
So yes, the day of ‘Eid is spent this way in Algeria, with kids running around (and making mess lol ma shaa Allah) and cous cous served at lunch (for ‘Eid ul-Fitr) and at dinner, in some areas of Algeria, for ‘Eid ul-Adha. On the day of ‘Eid ul-Adha, liver and pure are served at lunch time (usually) as we slaughter the ‘kebsh’ (sheep) in the morning, right after the ‘Eid prayer. Masajid don’t organise the ‘fun day event’ that day but you are in a Muslim country, where you hear the adhan 5 times a day and you are respected as a Muslim woman, in any circumstances, alhamdulillah.