Christmas Traditions Around the World




Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas Traditions in Lebanon
Streets are bright with Christmas lights as the Christmas season gets underway in Lebanon. About two weeks before Christmas people in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East plant seeds - chickpeas, wheat grains, beans, lentils - in cotton wool. They water the seeds every day and by Christmas the seeds have shoots about 6 inches in height. People use the shoots to surround the manger in nativity scenes. Figures are made from brown paper, as well a star is placed above the scene.

On Christmas Eve families and friends gather around their Christmas tree for an evening of celebration. The meal often features meat or chicken, wine or arak (a Lebanese drink), and the dessert is Bche de Nol, a French Christmas cake decorated to look like a yule log. At midnight, the churchbells ring in the cities and towns as people go to church in their new clothes. Papa Noel (Santa Claus) is the gift bringer and the children eagerly await his arrival. They hang red stocking by the chimney to be filled with sweets.

Traditionally throughout the Middle East people visit friends on Christmas morning and are offered coffee, liqueurs and sugared almonds. Lunch at Christmas is the most important meal of the season and the whole family gathers together for it, usually at grandparents or the eldest sons' home. 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 paper.