Next week is Kurban bayrami (Feast of the Sacrifice), perhaps the holiest of the religious holidays here in Turkey. The holiday will run for four days, Thursday through Sunday. In Arabic Kurban bayrami is known as “Eid al-Adha.”
The traditional way to celebrate Kurban bayrami is to sacrifice an animal, like a sheep or a cow, keeping 1/3 of the meat for one’s own family, giving 1/3 of the meat to relatives, friends, and neighbors, and giving 1/3 of the meat to the poor and needy.
Even in big cities like Istanbul some people still follow this practice. The weeks before Kurban bayrami see empty lots suddenly fill with sheep families can pick out. Even outside the Carrefour (French equivalent of Walmart) across the street from where I lived in Istanbul I stepped over blood running through the cracks in the sidewalk the day before, and the first day of, Kurban bayrami.
However, in most cities in Turkey the slaughtering of livestock has given way to cash donations to charities. For example, almost every other ad on TV the week before Kurban bayrami is from a charity like the Turkish Red Crescent (the Turkish version of the Red Cross) asking for money for this or that cause.
Kurban bayrami celebrates the story of Abraham and how he was so devoted to God he almost sacrificed his own son, before God stopped Abraham and told him, “I’m just testing you, here, sacrifice this ram instead.”
This was one of my favorite stories as a kid reading the Bible in Sunday School, and when I realized Muslims, on their holiest of holidays, are celebrating the same story, that was one of my “the differences aren’t nearly as significant as we think they are” moments.
There are differences in the stories (which son was nearly sacrificed, etc), but in my opinion arguing over those differences is petty internecine fighting we should “soldier up” and get over, because the point is that the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) celebrate pretty much the same story.