Muslims observe two main feasts, the first one comes right after the month of Ramadan and lasts for two days, thus called the small feast or Eid Al-Fetr. The second one is the feast that marks the end of pilgrimage season of Hajj and lasts for three days, thus called the big feast or Eid Al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
The story behind the feast is that Prophet Ibrahim had a vision of him slaughtering his son, Ismail. When he awoke from the vision, he told his son about it and Ismail complied with being slaughtered. However, before the act could be completed, God allowed a ram to materialize instead of Ismail. Thus, it became a ritual for people to sacrifice animals such as sheep, goats and cows during the feast. Most of the meat is donated to the poor and hungry.
Typically, the slaughtering of the animals takes place right after the feast’s prayer, which is right after sunrise. Unfortunately, people in Cairo do not abide by the proper way to slaughter as dictated by Islam, and instead, they slaughter the farm animals in the street. That is why on the morning of the feast, many streets are smeared with the blood of animals and the sight is usually very sickening. It is a good idea to avoid going out in the city during that time if you cannot stand the sight of blood.
The day before the Eid is called Wa’fa, which literally translates to “standing”, and it marks the day when pilgrims stand on the mountain of Arafat from sunrise to sunset. On this day, Muslims are advised to fast, although it is not required, and they break their fast just as the pilgrims descend from Mount Arafat.
In preparation for Eid, families usually go out a few days ahead to get some new clothes to wear during the feast vacation. In addition, many people visit each other on the first day of Eid and celebrate the feast by eating together. That is why a lot of public gardens are filled with picnickers during the vacation.
Cairo’s hotspots and Nile-spotting locations are usually very busy and crowded, that is why it is often difficult to walk in the streets, especially since harassment increases during the feast. However, mornings are usually very quiet, since most people go out after 12pm.