Lebanon is a small country, located in the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The country boasts of rich culture and heritage and celebrates every festival with great charm and vigor. Just like other festivals, Christmas is also celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm in the country. Days before the festival, the country gets enveloped in the air of festivity. There is a lot of buzz and merriment around this of the year. An interesting aspect about Christmas celebrations in Lebanon is that they are similar, yet a bit different from the other countries of the world.
Christmas Celebration in Lebanon
Lebanon has installed a unique style to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. Herein, about two weeks before Christmas Day, people sow seeds, such as chickpeas, beans, wheat grains and lentils. However, these seeds are not sown in the soil, but on cotton wool. The seeds are regularly watered by them. After about 14 days, i.e. on Christmas, shoots come out of the seeds and are generally six inches high. Lebanese plant these shoots under the Christmas tree or any other place at home, to mark the birth of the Lord.
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.
On Christmas, people usually wake up early and catch up with friends and relatives over coffee or liquor, along with sugared almonds. Lunch is the highlight of the entire day. It is the time when old or young, all family members come together to celebrate and rejoice the birth of Christ. The meal prepared on Christmas is different from the usual days. The table is filled with an assortment of rich delicacies, consisting of chicken and rice, and kubbeh or burghul. The cuisine prepared is mostly traditional and flaunts a regional flavor.
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. With this ends the festival of Christmas, but the festive galore continues until New Year.