This year’s Tabaski, Seli Ba, Eid al-Adha (take your pick of names for this very important holiday!) was a really enjoyable few days.  You may remember my post from last year, which explained the meaning behind this holiday, but if not, the BBC Web site provides a good explanation of the religious significance of this feast which is the, “festival (which) remembers the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to.”

There were several key differences between this year’s Seli Ba last year’s.

First and most exciting, was that this year I could concession-hop on my own, because I have friends here!  It’s a really good thing that the holiday stretches over three days, because there weren’t enough hours in just one day to visit everyone I wanted to visit.

Secondly, when I went to visit with friends, I was able to carry on conversations with all of them.  Always-improving language skills have proven to be my most valuable tool for success here, both socially and professionally.

Lastly, my list of blessings nearly doubled in size this year.  The Malians truly can’t get enough of blessings and they love it when I know them (and when I go freestyle, too).

Although there were differences, many things also remained just the same as last year. Three rams were sacrificed at my host family’s concession and a copious amount of meat was consumed.  My sugar intake, via shots and shots of tea during the three days, rivaled that of a five year-old let loose on his Halloween candy stash.  The kids rocked their fresh new clothes and hit up houses with a shower of blessings in return for small change and candy.  The women of the village worked from sun up to sundown to prepare the best food they know how and the men sat around with nothing to do but drink tea.  I pulled out my trusty Malian dress outfit and made my rounds, greeting and blessing as many people along the way as possible.

It is all of these things that I will miss next year when I’m back in the States.  Perhaps I’ll be able to track down some Malians to celebrate with, or will be able to convince a group of returned Peace Corps Mali volunteers to partake in a celebration for old time’s sake.  One thing I know for sure, this time next year, I’ll be flipping through the photos in my Seli Ba 2011 folder and reminiscing about the biggest fete of the year in Mali.  Check out my pictures here.