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From a host’s view: Thanksgiving & Eid in America

December 1, 2009

Lisa Killinger is the host mom of Aisha Hajj of Zanzibar, Tanzania. They live in Davenport, Iowa, and Aisha attends Davenport Central High School. The Killinger family and their exchange student Aisha are practicing Muslims, so Lisa can offer a perspective different than most host families.


On Thanksgiving Day, YES Muslim exchange students in the Quad Cities (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline and East Moline, Illinois) were actually fasting for the “Day of Arafat.” This is a highly recommended fasting day, so unlike most Americans on that day, who were gobbling up turkey, Muslims like IRIS student, Aisha Haji were fasting.

The fast-breaking time was sunset, around 4:30 PM, so that is when the Thanksgiving Feast began for those who fasted all day.

That night, some of the local Muslim teens came to our home to enjoy a Henna Party. It is traditional for women to gather during happy events like holidays and weddings to paint their hands with henna, in intricate designs and patterns.

We listened to Eid songs and songs from Indian movies while eating candies and cookies and decorating ourselves in preparation for our holiday, called Eid.

Our weekend of fun had only just begun…

On Friday, November 27th, our family enjoyed the celebration of their second biggest Muslim holiday of the year, Eid-Ul Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice). This holiday commemorates when Prophet Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, but then was given a ram to sacrifice instead.

We attended Eid prayers at the local mosque and then visited friends and went shopping. We also had lunch at a new Middle-Eastern restaurant in the Quad Cities called the Olive Tree.

The next day there were two parties for Eid. One was a brunch and one was a dinner. So, for us, the feasting didn’t stop!

We enjoyed a steady flow of traditional Indo-Pakistani foods at brunch, along with donuts and bagels for those who weren’t ready for curry at 11 am! At the Eid dinner, we enjoyed food catered by Ali Baba’s restaurant, a mix of Indo-Pak and Middle Eastern food like kebabs and biryani (rice cooked with spices and chicken).

So, while most people had a giant meal on Thursday and 3 days to recover, our students had a non-stop flow of feasts over this past weekend!!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kimberly Hope Athay permalink
    December 1, 2009 8:55 PM

    Wow! I am so happy that Aisha and Lisa were paired up as host mom and host daughter – it sounds like they are having a great time together celebrating. I wish I could have joined in on those feasts!

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