Building excitement for holidays begins by building up anticipation of it. We have Ramadan leading up to Eid ul Fitr. Between advent calendars, Iftar parties and visits to the mosque, it works as a month long process of building excitement and anticipation for Eid ul Fitr. This year, I devoted so much of myself into building that anticipation that I was pretty burnt out after the holiday. So burnt out that I couldn’t even begin to think about Eid ul Adha, which was only 2 months later! As I was trying to come up with ways to increase the excitement around the second Eid, I realized there is a system already in place: Hajj.
Eid ul Adha is a celebration of sacrifice during Hajj! Often we don’t focus on Hajj because it feels foreign to us. Not all of us are lucky enough to have had the opportunity to perform Hajj or even visit the holy sites. So how do we even start to describe them and get our kids excited about it? Further, how do we help our children understand the complex concepts involved in Hajj?
I’m no expert, nor have I had the opportunity to perform Hajj. But if and when I do get the opportunity to go, I want my family to have a sense of familiarity with the steps of Hajj and concepts of Hajj. Here is how I plan to help my family “experience” a little bit of Hajj each year.
Familiarize with the places and steps of Hajj
I went online looking for activities that revolved around Hajj. There are some amazing craft activities and even Hajj simulations. But I’ll be honest, I’m a little burnt out from Ramadan and summer, and setting up an elaborate activity feels pretty daunting. I did find a few coloring pages online. However I wanted my daughter to not only familiarize her self with the way the places look, but also with the rituals at these places.
I’ve designed a seven activity printable pack designed for kids up to age 7 years old. It ranges from simple activities like counting to more complex activities like mazes. I tried to incorporate the steps of Hajj into the activity. For example, you have to find seven ways between Mount Safa and Mount Marwa. I’m hoping it parallels to the seven times we go between the two mountains in Hajj.
It’s available for download in the shop.
Advent Calendar for the days of Hajj
Advent calendars are a great tool to build excitement! There are five days of Hajj. During those five days, why not have your family go on a mini Hajj from home? In my eyes, the essence of Hajj and Eid ul Adha is sacrifice. I believe it is a practice of abstaining from sins and sacrificing a habit that might have become part of your life.
Have each member of your family chose something to sacrifice. For younger children it can be something simple like chocolate, or maybe bubbles at bath time. The adults in the family can challenge themselves with abstaining from using bad words, or losing their temper.
Print out the printable calendar and have everyone decorate their own. We used washing tape and tassels to add color to our calendar! Over dinner review which step of Hajj is happening. Also review how you did on your sacrifice! Eid ul Adha occurs on Day 3 of Hajj, which works as a perfect motivation boost half way through! Don’t forget to reward your family with a special treat or even presents!
Printable available in the shop.
Hajj at home for older children
This is something I can’t wait to practice with my daughter. I recommend that your kids be old enough to understand complex concepts like sacrifice and forgiveness before you start this tradition with your family. Essentially, for each day of Hajj, I have outlined a journaling activity to correspond to the steps of Hajj. The idea is that you use the same journal year after year and are able to reflect on your progress!
Day 1: Set youR Intention
On the first day its all about setting the intention and getting in the right mindset. In Hajj this is in the form of putting on the Ihram and heading to Mina.
On this day, write a page or two on WHY they want to go on this journey. Discuss the hopes and desires associated with this journey. What is motivating us to go on this journey?
Day 2: Reflect And ask for FORGIVENESS
The day of Arafat is a day of reflection. Its the day we pray to Allah to show us His mercy and forgive us. But before we can ask for forgiveness, we have to first recognize our own faults.
On this day, write a page or two reflecting the things you wish you could have done differently this year. It can be as specific as a choice you made, or as broad as a general habit you’ve developed.
As part two of this day choose at least three of your choices or habits to work on. This is similar to Muzdalifah, where we get ready to face our past. We gather the stones and pebbles and organize ourselves.
Day 3: Eid ul Adha – Sacrafice
On the day of Eid, its important to begin by sacrifice, to give back. On this day donate something, it can be as simple as sadqa or as grand as old toys, books or clothes. This is similar to the sacrifice performed at Hajj.
It is also a time to appreciate family and show them that you care. Take some time today to celebrate each other. Spend time over a meal, share gifts and token of appreciations.
That night begin your journey toward change. Chose one of your habits and list out steps you want to take to change it. If its health, maybe write about challenges you’ll partake in this year. If it’s temper, maybe write out strategies to calm down.
Day 4 & 5
These two days are grouped together because they are very similar. We go continue stunning the devil. In our parallel Hajj, that is equivalent to facing the last two of our changes. Similar to before set goals and strategies.
You should keep this journal specifically for Eid ul Adha. Hopefully when you return to the book year after year, you will not only see progress on the goal you set but also on your ability to self reflect!
How do you plan to introduce Hajj to your family?