Egyptians defy rising prices to savor the spirit of Eid

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Egyptian accountant Youssef Abdel Hamid regrets that he was unable to make his usual Eid sacrifice this year.

Amid rising inflation and a weakening local currency, Hamid is among those who have been skimping on household essentials.

Egypt, along with the rest of the world, has been hit with a wave of price hikes in recent months as inflation surges.

People’s purchasing power has been hit, leaving many struggling to make ends meet, especially the 30 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Keeping an eye on costs means many families have been forced to let go of favorite traditions, even during Eid El-Adha — a time known for its charitable spending and hosting people with impressive menus.

“The prices of sheep, calves and cows have all seen a massive jump in comparison with last year and I can no longer afford to drop that kind of money,” Hamid said.

“Instead, I just stick to making some donations to various charities,” he added.

Sheep currently cost from EGP 4,000-7,000 ($130-225), while a local calf costs around EGP 40,000 and an imported calf about EGP 25,000.

The falling pound has made it even harder to balance the household budget.

“Some local buy-now-pay-later services are offering payment instalments for sacrifices, but it just does not make sense to have even more accumulating debt. Charity work shouldn’t put you in debt,” Hamid said.

Price hikes and inflation have also resulted in people cutting down on food and entertainment costs.

“Instead of our usual Eid feast, we are having something much more intimate,” housewife Amani Farid said.

“We won’t be having the entire family over for lunch. Instead, they will come later in the day when we’ll serve tea and cake,” she said, adding that there was no shame or embarrassment in the situation.

“We are all in the same boat; we have all been similarly affected by the increase in prices,” she said.

“I had always set a monthly budget for the household spending, but this time around things are different — the budget is much tighter and there is no breathing room.”

However, if Egyptians are known for anything, it is their willingness to make the best of a bad situation.

They play music on the street, blow up balloons, put on some classic movies and plays that remind them of the good old days — and, suddenly, the beauty of the Eid returns, proving that it is not about how much you have or are spending, but about who you are surrounded by and how loud you are laughing.

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