Woke up this morning to an cavalcade of bangs and crashes and the realisation that there were a lot of people out on the streets at a relatively early stage of the day. This being Bosnia and all, I was out of bed pretty sharpish, before remembering that today is Kurbam Bajram, the Bosnian Muslim festival of Eid Al Adha. Muslim tradition asks for an animal to be sacrificed and the meat shared between friends, neighbours with a certain amount donated to the poor. So, having been to the mosque and setting off a lot of bangers in the street everyone was heading home to cook epic amounts of meat and will be spending the next couple of days visiting their family and neighbours to share said meat. This Bajram goes on for four days, so there's a whole lot of meat to be eaten, even by Bosnian standards. Then, much like Halloween, many Bosnian children are allowed to come and knock on doors to ask for money or sweets to help their celebrations.
Bajram is one of those festivals, like Easter, that moves about a bit during the year and it always seems to take people by surprise. At least this year I had some forewarning about the closure of the boys nursery. So, with two energetic little lads requiring some attention from their mother and bags to be packed for our weekend away in Zagreb (it has a cinema!), I've opted for the short cut and dug about in the Brits In Bosnia backlog to find the post I wrote last year at this time. Now if I can just stop the boys getting hold of any bangers...
"One of things that I always forget about Bosnia is that with a significant proportion of the population belonging to 3 different religions, it seems that there is always a holiday to celebrate. Right now the Muslims are celebrating Kurbam Bajram (also known as Eid Al Adha which is the Festival of Sacrifice, in commemoration of the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God.). This being Bosnia it involves a lot of eating and drinking and a fair amount of partying with many children knocking on our door for small gifts.
I'm gearing up for Christmas at the moment, along with most of the Bosnian Croats who are predominantly Catholic. Right now this appears to involve writing a lot of Christmas cards, wondering where we will get a tree and wishing I had got my act together earlier regarding buying Christmas presents. Tuzla has a significant Croat population and Christmas is a big affair. The town is covered in Christmas lights which, if I am not mistaken, are exactly the same as the ones decorating the lampposts back home.
Then there is the Orthodox Christmas, celebrated by the Serbs, on January 7th. I have to confess to knowing very little about this one, but talk to me after Jan 7th and I hope to know a little more.
Here in Tuzla, which has always prided itself on its multi-ethnic outlook and inclusiveness, the citizens appear to have taken the decision to celebrate everything, irrespective of their personal religion. When Bajram falls in December this time of year gets pretty busy, particularly as there is also a Bosnian National Day holiday at the end of November as well. Throw in a New Year (which everyone celebrates with enthusiasm) and you really do have a festive season. Now, if only I could know when the holidays were before I turn up to find a closed nursery I'd be truly jolly."