It used to be growing up that Eid ul Adha was often the bigger Eid. Going to the cow market, choosing your cow or goat, then bringing it home and caring for it. And then, on Eid day, watch - a little sad but also a little awed - as four men wrestle with the ropes and bring the cow down, before the throat is slit and the cow is sacrificed. And if it's a goat, one or two is enough to kill the goat. Skinning of the animal was done next, followed by cutting up of the meat.
Soon you are busy helping the adults sort the meat into three piles. One for yourself. One for the friends and relatives. One for the poor. Although it is not mandatory to donate or give the meat - you can keep everything for yourself, most people do donate.
Growing up, this Eid taught me many lessons. First, it taught me that where food comes from. The burger or hot dog is not magically there, it is there because a life was taken to feed me. So don't waste food, especially meat. Second, it taught me that while human life is preferred over animal life (the animal is killed to feed us), it also means we have to be responsible and to take care of our environment. Kill the animal in a humane manner. And finally, it is about sacrifice. We are taking care of the animal for a week before we kill it. You do grow attached to it. And then you have to sacrifice of what is dear to you. This is a recurring theme of life.
Once I was in Canada, suddenly Eid ul Fitr became the "bigger" Eid. It was suddenly hard to fast in Canada when everyone else is eating. While Ramadan here is fun in its own way, especially the night prayers, Eid ul Fitr becomes the day you rejoin the "normal" Canadians in eating and drinking. Whereas for Eid ul Adha, you just order a Qurbani from the butcher, and then go on Day 1 or 2 of the Eid to simply pick up your meat. It's Eid, delivered.
I was fine with it, but what about the kids? What would they know about our rich history of Eid ul Adha? For this reason, last year I took my older son to the farm on day 2 of Eid. Day 2 is always far, far less busy than Eid day itself (you can sacrifice on any of the three days). We picked a fat goat. After petting it and taking pictures with it, the goat was taken by the butcher to the slaughter place. I told my son about the history of Eid, of Ibrahim (pbuh) and why we do what we do. I thought the concept might be difficult, but kids have remarkable tendency to process religion. We do what we can.
This year we are giving Qurbani again, but not here. I also plan to ask my sons to take a little of the Eidi they get, and donate a part to the poor. Let them feel the pinch of sacrifice. This is how I try, little as I can, to build the traditions.
How do you build your Eid traditions? What are your Eid memories? Do share.