Lebanon officially the Lebanese Republic is a country in the East Mediterranean. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south. Lebanon’s location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has dictated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity.
The capital and the largest city of this country, Beirut. Lebanon is the only Middle East nation where Christmas is an official holiday.
Christmas Celebrations in Lebanon :
In Lebanon, 35% of the population follow a form of Christianity called Maronite Catholic.
In Lebanon, Christmas is celebrated with much grandeur and magnificence. Houses are decorated, streets are lighted and shops are adored. Figurines, small decorative items, lightings and other fineries dominate the decoration. While the Christmas tree is the center of attraction, the nativity scene can also be seen in most of the Lebanese homes. A star is suspended over the scene of Christ’s birth, with the figures made from brown paper. Apart from reveling in prayers, people in Lebanon also think of this occasion as a time to party and have fun.
Christians build manger scenes in their homes called a Nativity Crib which is more popular than a Christmas Tree. On Saint Barbara’s Day, which falls a couple of weeks before Christmas, the Lebanese plant seeds, like chickpeas, wheat grains, beans and lentils in cotton wool, and water them every day. By Christmas time, the seeds have sprouted, and the Lebanese use them to decorate the manger in the nativity scenes.
Other common Catholic traditions such as going to a midnight mass service are also celebrated in Lebanon. Western-style commercial displays of poinsettias, Christmas lights, holly and community Christmas trees are also becoming more popular. Mighli, a sweet, cinnamon pudding, which is made to celebrate the birth of a child, is also made on Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus. When people visit each other houses over the Christmas period, sugared almonds are often eaten with cups of strong coffee. The meal consists of chicken and rice, and Kubbeh, which is made up of crushed boiled wheat or burghul mixed with meat, onion, salt and pepper and kubbeh or burghul.
Christmas evenings are usually spent attending family gatherings that are mostly arranged at grandparents’ home. In late evenings, Lebanese people celebrate Christmas fever by lighting big bonfires in the heart of the town. Everyone in the neighborhood comes to this place to sing songs, dance and make merry around the bonfire. This is an important part of Christmas festivity in Lebanon, which displays unity and harmony amongst the countrymen. While bonfires are excellent time to strengthen the bonds of love, ‘Dabkeh’ is a great opportunity to revel in traditional conventions. It is a special regional dance program, which is carried out on the occasion of Christmas. In it, young men and women hold hands in a semi circle and dance to a particular tune. These dancers are dressed in colorful attires and perform the dance, which is beautifully choreographed.
In Lebanon Happy/Merry Christmas is Eid Milad Majid which means ‘Glorious Birth Feast’ or you could say Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair which means ‘may every year find you in good health’.
Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!