Today is no doubt a historical day, with either celebrations or lamentations.
I 'can't be bothered' for either of these two, and instead, I recount this year, as being the first year I didn't celebrate Eid Ekito with my family.
Ever since I can remember, my family has celebrated Eid Ekito, though at times, it was most certainly an embarrassment to me. Especially when trying to explain to the teachers exactly why i had missed 3 days of school.
Before and during 2004, Youm (my great grandmother -God rest her soul) was in charge of organising Eid Ekito, until her death later that year.
She always indulged us all, and the whole house would be filled with lighted candles. It felt so magical to wander through her old fashioned house- walking as softly as i could, so none of the flickering candles would blow out.
After 2004, my dad took over the Eid stories and planning. He always stressed that we should keep this tradition alive.
This eid almost always coincided a few days after Nawroz,so it came as no suprise, that my older brother would mention this. My dad of course denied that Eid Ekito had anything to do with Nawroz - he boasted that Eid Ekito had been celebrated from the beginning of civilization, and Nawroz was young in comparison.
Unfortunately, none of us believed him, and we all rolled our eyes sarcastically. Well I did anyway. Because of the reverence which our great grandmother had for Eid Ekito, none of us had contested it with her. But with my dad, it became an all out war, us trying to prove that they had made this all up.
Eid Ekito is not a religious celebration in that sense. The best way I could describe it would be to say it was a 'pagan' festival, although out of my whole family, Youm was the most religious.
Truthfully, it didn't make sense, and we generally didn't share our celebration of this Eid with other people, perhaps in fear of being judged. But our parents always would repeat that the whole of Iraq celebrated it.
Youm used to recount how in her younger years, the Tigris would be filled with floating candles. My father would agree with her, and tell us how he would hold his mother's hand, as they placed a candle in Diyala River, praying for his success.
He angrily recalls how Saddam got rid of this, and my brain would automatically shut off as politics creeped in.
It wasn't as magical without Youm.
The stories told was of old warring Babylonian gods and goddesses. We would sit around the table, eating sugary snacks, and talking at the same time, with such excitement. My brother would constantly spray me with food and saliva as he talked, prompting me to always crawl up to the sofa to avoid him.Ironically on the sofa, my dad's eating of pistachios meant i had to dodge hard shell bullets, as my dad tried to throw the shells onto the table.
I put up with this only as long as the stories lasted. As soon as they ended, I would go to the kitchen where 4 generations met - my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and me. They would gossip, and i would try to make sense of their talk, as they asked me to get them juice, water, a spoon etc, all the time using the cutest endearments.
After a while, I would walk out the kitchen door into the garden. I'd carry candles with me, enjoying how the wax snaked down the candles, then onto my skin. Laying them onto the dry grass, I would bounce onto the ground, shouting for my sister to join me, and bring a bottle of water with her. Some Eids she came, and other Eids I would stay out alone, listening to talk and laughter, until i slept under the stars.
Every time i was woken, whoever woke me would mutter about my stubbornness - I'd be covered in bug bites. Nonetheless, I was smiling widely when I crawled into bed, my mouth still sweet from 3 days of sugar.
Next year, I'm going to make sure I go back on time to celebrate Eid with them. Even though the stories have gotten repetitive and boring, and even though now only the table is filled with candles. Perhaps next year I'll try to light 70 candles as Youm always did.
It does exist!!! - its on wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akitu