Lebanon: Palm Sunday and Easter Celebrations

In Lebanon two Christian celebrations took place on April 8, 2012 as churches following the Gregorian calendar celebrated Easter Sunday and churches following the Julian calendar celebrated Palm Sunday. This means that some Christians are celebrating Easter next Sunday, on April 15. In 2013 the two Easters will be much further apart, on March 31 and May 5.

Sietske, a Dutch woman married to a Lebanese man, describes the family's Easter celebrations:

There is the annual Easter lunch with the Easter Egg Hunt attached to it in the garden of the father of the wife of the brother of my husband. And everyone is coming, whether they're Christian or not, or whether it's their Easter or not (the Orthodox celebrate Easter next Sunday). I have mentioned before that in Holland, that connection would qualify them as strangers. Here, it’s direct family. And the cousins of the wife of the brother of my husband come as well, and so do the wives of the brothers of the father of the wife of the brother of my husband. Still with me? And the parents of the wives of the brothers of the wife of the brother of my husband are there as well. In Lebanon they have names for family connections like that. In Holland you would never ever meet these people, save for an isolated wedding or funeral. Here I meet them every year. And the group is growing, as children get married, and so their extended family gets added. We were ranging from age 96 (3 were in their 90’s) to 4 months old; a bit like an Italian family. But I assume most people that live around the Mediterranean share these characteristics; large families, lots of celebrations and parties. And if you take into account that most Lebanese families have about half of their family members living abroad (on my husband’s side alone – and he is from a very small family) there are already 3 uncles, an aunt, and 11 cousins living outside), you can imagine what kind of celebrations we’d have if everyone were to be in town.

Sietske's Easter family photo. Image from sietske-in-beiroet.blogspot.com.

Tarek Joseph Chemaly writes that the egg hunt is not a Lebanese tradition:

In Lebanon we do not do egg hunts but rather “egg matches” whereby boiled eggs are struck against each other until the last standing egg is the winner… And damn cholesterol levels – because you have to eat them eventually right?

Painted eggs for Easter. Image by Twitter user @tarekfeghali.

Meanwhile, Orthodox Christians celebrated Palm Sunday.

Bishop Audi celebrating Palm Sunday, St George's Orthodox Cathedral, Beirut. Image by Twitter user @LebanonEguide.

Palm Sunday celebration at St George's Orthodox Cathedral, downtown Beirut. Image by Twitter user @antoine_haddad.

Palm Sunday celebration in Ashrafieh, Beirut. Image by Twitter user @rimamaktabi.

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