Two hundred and fifty-one

Eid al-Adha, the “Feast of Sacrifice”

Eid al-Adha is an important Muslim holiday, concluding the pilgrimage to Mecca.  “Eid al-Adha lasts for three days and commemorates Ibraham’s (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament. Ishmael is considered the forefather of the Arabs. According to the Koran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son when a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead.” (

Eid al-Adha is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the 12th and the last Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah of the lunar Islamic calendar. (Wikipedia) Men, women and children dress in their best clothes to pray to Allah to give thanks for His grace and favours, remember the dead, and help the needy and vulnerable.  After prayer, there is a short sermon, then socializing in each other’s homes.  Those who can afford it sacrifice a domestic animal, usually a sheep, to remember Ibraham’s sacrifice. (

The Feast of Sacrifice is celebrated by Muslims throughout the world.  In Turkey it is an official four-day holiday.  “Traditionally, on the first day of the Sacrifice Feast in Turkey, men of each family go to a mosque for a special morning prayer. Then the sacrifice ritual begins. In some regions in Turkey, people paint the sacrificial animal with henna and adorn it with ribbons. The butcher reads a prayer before slaughtering the animal. Families share about two-thirds of the animal’s meat with relatives and neighbors, and they traditionally give about one-third to the poor.” (

In recent years, people have decided to make donations to help the poor and needy instead of the animal sacrifice.

Guy Fawkes Day Recap

Photo by Will O'Hare, from Occupy Toronto

When I attended Bonfire Night in England many years ago I was intrigued by the spectacle and enjoyed the party, but I never really thought of the political history that created the celebration.  Even as I wrote my post yesterday about the Guy Fawkes story, it didn’t really hit home.  Bonfire night is originally about lighting fire to effigies of Guy Fawkes to celebrate that he was executed and didn’t kill the King and the Parliament.  Now it has become more anti-government, almost celebrating what Guy Fawkes tried to achieve, as opposed to his demise.  Guy Fawkes masks are used as a symbol against government tyranny.  Effigies of politicians are burned.

How was I to celebrate this in Toronto?  After passing up a suggestion to create an effigy of Rob Ford and burn it on the steps of City Hall (as much as I want to celebrate Guy Fawkes, I don’t want to end up with his same fate) and giving up on the notion that I light firecrackers and create a bonfire (I did this on Canada Day on the Island and it wasn’t very political then), I decided to honour the sentiment.  Of course I couldn’t do it without a Guy Fawkes doll to accompany me (homemade of an old t-shirt, some duct tape, and stuffed with newspaper).

My Guy Fawkes doll at the Occupy Toronto camp. Photo by Will O'Hare.

Occupy Toronto tent city, where I can find a lot of people who understand that sometimes drastic measures have to be taken in order to achieve your political goals.  I’ve been avoiding going there because I have major questions about what it is achieving and what is the end goal.  I support some of the causes, but question the means.  I needed to ask how and why and Guy Fawkes Night was the perfect night to do it.

After walking throughout the tents, free school, information booth, placards and drum circle, I was watching a group of people singing and dancing.    A gentleman approached me and asked me why I was watching and not taking part.  I explained my reservations and told him my questions.  Turns out he’s from Egypt here for six weeks in the Occupy Toronto camp – he was part of the revolution in Egypt.  We spoke for a long time about the what, why and how.  He believes in the need for parallel revolutions and a united people.  He was part of what Guy Fawkes didn’t achieve.  He gave me a different perspective.

I didn’t end up burning my Guy in the end.  He is a symbol of resistance to the status quo and I didn’t want that to go up in flames.  We need that.  Although there were no fireworks or bonfires or crowds of people parading through the streets, this Guy Fawkes Night was the first time I actually understood what it was all about.