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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Albania! Albania! You Border On The Adriatic...

Yesterday, my sister mentioned that it was a holiday in Albania. You might be wondering what that has to do with the price of beans, or anything else slightly relevant, but I really enjoy thinking about holidays, even those in which I don't get to participate!

{Side note} Yes, the sister has become quite the world traveler and has spent the last several months soaking up Albanian life and culture. She's been having a fabulous time over in the Balkans. Aside from occasional oddities, which I admit sound strange to my purely Western ears, Albania also has some remarkable offerings. Between the startling discoveries of sworn virgins and ongoing blood feuds, the country also boasts the town of Butrint. This ancient city is on UNESCO's World Heritage List and, for you literati, yes--Virgil mentioned it in the Aeneid ( Mother Theresa was an Albanian and Ismail Kadare was the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize. One last plug? Lonely Planet named Albania as their number one country to visit in 2011. I mean, you wouldn't want to miss this, would you?
Or this?

{End Side Note}

It turns out that Albanians, whose country is 70% Muslim, were celebrating Eid ul Adha (Festival of Sacrifice.) This is one of the most important holy days of the year for Muslims. "It is a serious occasion, symbolizing the submission of each individual Muslim, and the renewal of total commitment to Allah" (credoreference.) For those of you who remember your Bible, this holy festival commemorates when Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to sacrifice his son. I was always completely flabbergasted that Abraham was willing to do that, and this celebration underscores the pure devotion he showed to following God's will. Thankfully, a ram appeared and with God's instructions, Abraham killed it instead. Now, Muslims sacrifice a sheep (or other appropriate animal) which is called a qurban in remembrance of this act ( Interestingly, the meat is then apportioned into thirds, with part going to the family, part going to friends, and part going to the poor ( It would sure help the homeless shelters out if we all gave them 1/3 of our turkeys next week!
I hope you had an Eid Saeed (Happy Eid!) and be sure not to get mixed up in any blood feuds.

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