By: Chadi Estephan
After eight Christmases in America, I have experienced many differences from my home country. In Lebanon there are both Christians and Muslims, which makes it an interesting situation. All Lebanese Christians celebrate Christmas except for Lebanese Muslims, who celebrate Ramadan. Christmas is a Christian holiday but America is not as religious a country overall as Lebanon. Ramadan is a holy month in Islam.
The tradition of all Lebanese Christians is to pay their respects by visiting friends’ houses and to make each other sweets to give. Gifts are not given because it is seen as rude, as in “why would you give me a gift? Do you think I’m in need of new things or money?”
Church is very important to Lebanese Christians because Christmas is a Christian holiday, not a day to become drunk. They also attend Midnight Mass and receive communion.
Muslims wish Christians a happy Christmas to keep a respectful relationship. During Ramadan, Christians wish them a Ramadan Mubarak.
Lebanese Christians use trees to decorate the house but Churches are not decorated.
There is “Papa Noel” in Lebanon, which is Santa Claus in French. He is dressed the same as in America but the name has a different meaning than in America. Santa Claus in Lebanon is Saint Nicholas, who gives gifts and food to the poor to provide for them.
Both countries celebrate with a huge feast on Christmas but in Lebanon special desserts might include baklava and busche de noel.