Christmas in Lebanon

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About fourteen days prior to Christmas the Lebanese plant seeds like wheat grains, chickpeas, lentils and beans in cotton wool. They are watered everyday right up until Christmas, by this time the seeds would have grown shoots up to approximately 6 inches long. When making nativities, brown paper is utilized to make the figures, the shoots are placed round the manger and also a star is positioned right above the nativity scene.

The only mid eastern country that celebrates Christmas as an official holiday is Lebanon. The Lebanese family attends midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Papa Noel makes a personal appearance at the home or drops gifts off at church. The children's gifts are often clothes or candy. A traditional dinner includes turkey, roast duck Lebanese salad (Tabouleh) and pastries such as a honey cake (Baklava) or Buche de Noel is offered.When the church bells ring at midnight, this is an indication for everyone to dress in their finest clothes and walk to their local church.

On Christmas morning friends visit each other and are usually offered coffee, liqueurs and sugared almonds. Christmas lunch is the most important meal of the holiday this is usually at the grandparent’s house or the eldest son’s home. The meal is made of rice and chicken, crushed boiled wheat (bulghur) mixed with meat, salt and pepper (Kubbeh), onion.

A tradition is that of preparing a unique kind of pudding every time a child comes into the world at this time of the year, especially when it is a boy. This sort of pudding is called Mughly. It comprises of rice flour, caraway, sugar and other spices, placed into little dishes. It's topped with coconut, raisins, crushed almonds, peanuts, and walnuts. This pudding is offered to everyone who enters the hose around this season, members of family and friends.

Large bonfires are displayed in the villages; this is a chance to mend any mishaps throughout the year with friends. Lots of music will be played and it will be a joyous time for singing and dancing.

Special dances called Dabkeh are performed throughout the Christmas period. Young women and men hold hands in semi-circles dancing with each other to specific music. The dancers put on unique vibrant clothing and head covers. The dances consist of artistic footwork that harmonizes with the sound of the music.

Lebanese people open their houses for relatives and friends to visit on New Years day.