This week was "Eid al-Adha," one of the biggest holidays in Egypt. The holiday itself lasts four whole days! Like our Christmas Vacations, students get a long break from school and Mommys and Daddys can stay home from work. Because of this, most markets and shops and neighborhood restaurants are closed during the day so that people can spend time at home with their families. On the first day they have a feast with lots and lots of meat, something many people don't get to eat here very often. And like Christmas, people save up their money the entire year in order to celebrate with rich foods, luxurious sweets, and new clothes.
People also use this time to take their families and friends out for a night on the town. The streets may be quiet and deserted during the day, but at night they come alive, bursting with excited patrons. Hundreds of teens gather outside the cinema, waiting for the ticket booths to open so they can be the first to see the newest release. Families flock to the malls, eating at fancy American chain restaurants and trying to take advantage of the best sales. Parents take their kids out for ice cream and juice. And over 15,000 people go to the zoo in the first two days of Eid alone!
For the first night of Eid, Moe and I celebrated with our closest friends. We all wore our Eid best and ate at a fancy restaurant, which we followed with milkshakes and fruit cocktails at our favorite neighborhood juice stand. On the second night, though, we--along with hundreds of Egyptian parents and kids--went to what is sure to be the greatest show on the Nile: The Cairo Circus!
After squeezing our way through the masses of excitement, we found ourselves inside the circus grounds. Outside the big, blue and red striped tent, colored lights connected the trees while old men sat and drank tea underneath. We shared a scoop of chocolate ice cream (on a Nanna cone!) and a box of popcorn before heading to our seats inside.
Candy vendors, balloon sellers, and tea boys circled around the tent as we waited for the overhead lights to dim and the show to begin. Parents bought their kids flashing light-up sticks and sweets while teenagers posed in front of digital cameras, demanding to see the picture on the tiny screen immediately after the bright, white flash flashed. Two men walked towards our plastic seats--one holding an old fashioned looking camera and the other a baby lion! I turned down the chance to get my picture taken with the sedated cub, but I'm sure it won't be my only chance.
All this bumbling and flashing and sugar would have satisfied our cravings, but then the show actually began! We sat for an hour and a half with Omar, a five year old there with his family, our eyes glued to the circus ring.The band jammed and the spotlights swirled. Men juggled. Little girls climbed ladders balancing on the bottom of a man's feet. Ladies swung on rings high in the air. Teenage boys clad in black satin and rhinestones jump roped to 90s techno. A girl in a white wig winked as her doves hovered above her head and her cocker spaniels leapt over one another. A magician and his assistant wooed the crowd. And the ringleader fed a thin but nonetheless royal looking lion raw meat from his mouth as two other lions and three tigers--each looking equally as hungry--calmly looked on. It was amazing.
I hope your Eid was just as exciting!