One of the key parts in learning a language is getting to know the culture of this country. So, without further ado, let me tell you some awesome Lebanese traditions!
Although Lebanon is considered as a new country in the middle east since its official establishment in the 1900s, lots of people don’t think that it has its own traditions, however lots of worldwide middle eastern, Greek and Turkish traditions will be found combined in a country of only 10,452 km².
Here are 5 of the most famous traditions you must know about Lebanon:
- Pita bread
- The value of the cup “2imit l kibeye”
- 3 kisses on the cheek for every person in the room.
1. Dabke as a Lebanese Tradition
Dabke is an arabic folk dance that is quite common in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. Even though the name varies from one country to another, the dance has the same assets with some changes in every country. Even in Lebanon, the “Bekaaein” Dabke is different from the ones adapted in the mountains, which is also different from the ones held in the south “jnoub”.
As a matter of fact, Beirut has never adapted the Dabke as part of its tradition, as it is the capital that holds more known dances as it is considered more civilized.
The origin of the Dabke is not truly clear, as it has been a debate from where or how it has started in the first place. It’s very common that dabke was practiced by the people of villages and towns in the above-mentioned countries. It was very famously reported that people from these regions built their houses from tree branches and mud. When the weather changed, the mud would start to crack and the family along with the neighbors would patch it up while holding hands and forming a line and stomping the mud in place. The person in the first row, who is usually the owner of the house, would scream “al 3ona” which means “help!”. And from there, the famous “dal3ona” world has started and is usually used when performing the Dabke. (If you write “Dal3ona” in the search box of YouTube, you’ll get a lot of Dabke related music).
I explain more about this in my YouTube video over here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqC4XP_X-oo
Dabke is usually performed in modern Lebanese weddings, and even though Beirut did not take a part in creating the Dabke, neither was it performed widely before, nowadays it is a must in Beiruti weddings too. Also, Dabke is performed in modern cafes in villages.
2. Fairuz in the Lebanese Culture
Another tradition in Lebanon is listening to the songs of Fairouz in the morning. Fairouz is an incredibly famous Lebanese singer in the Arab world. Blasting Fairouz songs in the car while going to school in the early morning or waking up to her voice because they had it too loudly on TV is something almost every Lebanese person has experienced, whether you were raised in Lebanon or outside Lebanon. Fairouz represented Lebanon during the civil war abroad and got lots of donations to help the people in need in her country. She is also a very known figure in Paris, where she performed in the Olympia Concert Venue in 1979 and in The Bercy Palace in 1988, on the biggest concert halls in Paris.
3. Pita Bread as a Famous Lebanese Food
The pita bread is famous in Lebanon, as it is eaten with everything. A normal Lebanese sandwich will be a halloumi sandwich made with cheese “halloumi” and pita bread “Khebez”. Even the tabbouleh, which is also a famous Lebanese salad, will be scooped on some occasions in pita bread because Lebanese people believe that one can’t be full unless he eats this pastry with his breakfast, lunch or dinner since they also believe it tastes good with everything. It is found everywhere in Lebanon, starting from small grocery stores around the corner to the most famous pastry in Lebanon.
4. The value of the cup
“Imit l kibeye” is very known in Lebanon and especially in villages. The concept is to always leave a thin layer of the drink offered by the host. It is still quite common till these days as parents still teach their kids to always leave some of their drink and never get it all. The reason behind this tradition in the first place is to show those around you what you were drinking exactly. Even if there was nobody but the host, for the old generation and part of the modern one, it is respectful to leave a thin layer anyway, regarding if there is someone else or not. Some say it is also important to show the host that the parents provide enough for the family that you do not need to drink the whole glass.
5. The 3 kisses on the cheek
The 3 kisses on the cheek is famous in Lebanon. When you go into a room in a family gathering, a simple small party or even a funeral, even if there were 50 people in there, you have to say hi to every single person there, 3 kisses on the cheek, left-right-left, shake their hand 2 times and move on. The 3 kisses can be down to 2 if you are in a hurry but that would not leave a good impression.
This is just classic Lebanese.
But now in the corona times, it is better to go through your day without kissing anyone. I guess it’s a win from our side here.
I hope you have enjoyed knowing some fun traditions we have!
If you would like to start your journey in learning the Spoken Lebanese Arabic dialect, then feel free to enroll in this FREE mini crash course!
Let me know if you have any questions or inquiries.