Celebrating the End of Ramadan: Feasts, Family, and a Moroccan Wedding
Despite the fact that I am only here for two months, I have been lucky enough to experience a couple of essentially Moroccan celebrations, namely Eid al-Fitr and a zifaf, or wedding celebration. Eid al-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the month-long fast of which Muslims partake. However the traditions vary slightly from country to country, so being here allowed me a great view of some Moroccan traditions.
The day, which fell on Tuesday, July 29 this year, is all about family and I am lucky enough to be with a very welcoming host family. Starting from the morning, family streamed in and out of the house to greet and exchange news, drink some tea and juice, and of course, eat cookies. All of the children get new clothes and are seen out and about playing with one another while their parents flit from house to house.
At lunch we ate chicken pastilla, a large pastry dish filled with chicken, meat, oats, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon – a delicious mix of salty and sweet. After that, we ate roasted chicken and drank juice, of course finishing with more cookies and tea.
According to my teacher, this is traditional Eid food here in Morocco and everyone eats the same thing. In the evening we went to the house of my host grandmother, and all of my host relatives from my host mother’s side were there as well. It very much reminded me of a party with my family in America (I come from a large and loud Italian family)–everyone chatting and enjoying the holiday together. At one point drums were brought out and everyone sang along to a few songs, joyously expressing what everyone feels on a day such as this.
A few days after the Eid, my family loaned me a traditional Moroccan garment and we all got dressed up to go to a zifaf, or wedding celebration, for someone on my host father’s side of the family. Moroccan weddings are notoriously long, and this was no different. We arrived at 10pm in the evening and did not leave until 6am in the morning, which is apparently quiet normal. The bride and groom changed outfits no less than five times, and I cannot begin to imagine how many pictures were taken.
Of course there was lots of food – roasted chicken, meat cooked with prunes and apricots, juices, platters full of fruit, so many cookies, tea, and finally wedding cake.
Everything was done in stages: the bride and groom would emerge dressed beautifully, and they would partake in a specific activity, for instance, being lifted up in a litter by four men who then began to dance as they sat and waved to the family while music played. Then we would all dance or eat or watch while pictures and videos were taken, and eventually they would leave to change again. Throughout the night we all danced to lively Moroccan music, chatted with the various family members who were present, and took pictures of our own.
Despite the fact that there were over 100 people present, I think I was the only non-related person in attendance, but that did not at all stop everyone from being very gracious and welcoming. It was an amazing and impressive event to see, and I count myself so lucky to have been able to experience it.