Christmas is one week away. Back home in New Hampshire, U.S., there is so much snow that our mail box has been "taken out" by one too many snow plows. In Abu Dhabi, the only moisture on the ground is that from my garden hose, which is somewhat leaky.
It is nearly silent around our villa today. Many families have departed for vacation, and my younger boys are wondering what they'll do without their friends. Even the sun seems quieter, it is so much gentler recently. The temperatures brush 80 degrees during the day and the low 60s at night.
As we look forward to Christmas in a week, our Muslim friends anticipate their own important holiday, Eid Al Adha. It begins Dec. 19th (this year) and runs four days. During Eid Al Adha, Muslims pray at home or in a mosque, don their best clothes, visit the eldest family member's home for a nice meal, and give children money as gifts. This Eid comes at the end of Haj, the pilgrimmage to the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, that Muslims are supposed to try to make once during their lifetime. There are many rituals of religious significance during this pilgrimmage. The intention is to draw Muslims' to their faith and also to unify them as members of their community of worshippers.
Eid Al Adha, the "Festival of Sacrifice," commemorates Abraham's faithfulness and love for God, a love so great he was willing to sacrific his only and beloved son. (As Abraham was about to kill his son, he was told his sacrifice was accepted and his son lived. A ram was sacrificed instead.)
During the Eid, many Muslims today sacrifice an animal - usually a goat or a lamb - and share it with family and the needy. The Khaleej Times reports that approximately one million kilograms (2.2 million pounds) of meat is distributed to the poor at Haj.
My Emirati neighbors left Abu Dhabi yesterday. Their destination was London, if they could get tickets. It seems everyone wants to go to London this Eid, my neighbor said. Other friends flew to Egypt, Oman, and Australia. We know three families spending Christmas in India. Other friends travel to Florida, U.S., this evening.