The poet and painter Kahlil Gibran is the best example of the high cultural level reached by post-war Lebanon, a country located in Asia according to EHISTORYLIB, which mixed Arab traditions and recent Western influences, especially French and American. In recent decades, however, that cosmopolitan spirit has been broken by the confrontation between different ethnic and religious groups.
In the National Library of Beirut they are deposited documents of the United Nations. The library of the monastery of St. John in Khinshārah (Kunchara), dating from 1696, shows one of the earliest printing presses in the Middle East.
- Amin Maalouf (1949), French-trained Arabic-speaking Lebanese writer. He was born in Beirut, where he studied Economics and Sociology. He wrote articles on international political issues in Al-Nahar. In 1976, at the time of the civil war in Lebanon, he settled in France, where he continued his journalistic activity as editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique.
- Khalil Gibran (1883 – 1931), Lebanese poet and painter with a refined cosmopolitan education, who lived between the Middle East and the United States. He was born in Bsarri and died in New York. With his verses of characteristic sapiential style, “The prophet” (1923) and “Arena y onda” (1926), generations of readers from all over the world have been identified.
Animator of an intellectual circle that was trying to renew Arabic poetry, Gibran – who was also the author of novels critical of traditional social customs, such as “Spirits rebels” (1908) – sometimes wrote in English, later being translated into Arabic, or directly in Arabic, as in the case of the Broken Wings collection (1911).
Marriage and family
Since financial independence is normally a prerequisite for getting married, men often wait until they are in their 30s or so. The women marry with something more than 20 years. In general, Christians in Lebanon are opposed to divorce, although it is permitted under Islamic law. Lebanese law provides that each religion has its own courts that deal with matters such as marriages, divorces and inheritances in accordance with the various customs.
Cousins and other relatives often have a close personal relationship. In fact, cousins are as close relatives as brothers and sisters. Urban families are typically smaller than rural families. Discipline is strict, and children show respect for parents and elders. The father is the head of the family, while the mother takes care of the house and the children. Many women who work outside the home do so for financial reasons.
Lebanese cuisine is generally quite spicy and spicy. Meats are their specialty, although many dishes are light or vegetarian. On special occasions, people can spend several hours in a house or a restaurant, enjoying a traditional table, in which diners are served as many times as they want of 20 dishes or more. Kibbeh is a popular beef dish, which can be eaten raw, fried, or cooked. Arak, a strong traditional liquor, is served with many Lebanese dishes, although devout Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork.
The main meal of the day is eaten between noon and 3 pm, and can last for two hours or more. Lebanese like to eat food from many regions. Western cutlery is often used for European food or rice dishes. Many foods are eaten with the right hand, using pieces of bread or lettuce as spoons. For example, tabbouleh, a typical salad made with wheat, parsley, chopped onion, diced tomatoes, and other vegetables, is eaten with a spoonful of lettuce.
When a person meets a stranger, an acquaintance, or a friend, it is important to greet them and ask about their health and that of other members of their family. A handshake is common between men and women. Close friends and family members brush their cheeks and ‘kiss the air’ when they meet or say goodbye. In urban areas, this greeting is used with people of either sex: in rural areas, only members of the same sex can greet each other in this way, unless the two people are related.
Titles such as doctor or professor are used when appropriate. Personal space is more limited than in some Western countries, and people can stay very close while conversing. In business meetings, friends use titles and act more formal than in other situations. The most common urban greetings are Bonjour (Good morning), Salut (Hello), Hi (Good morning), or the Arabic expression Keef halik (How are you?) For women or Keef halak for men. In rural areas, usually only Arabic greetings are used.
It is offensive to extend an object for someone else to take it, as this implies a servant’s condition. Many people, especially Muslims, consider it inappropriate to pass or receive objects with the left hand; the right hand or both hands must be used. The soles of the shoes or the soles of the feet should always face the ground and never face another person. Eye contact is important; however, women usually avoid looking at men. Public displays of affection are not accepted, even between married couples.
There is a long and esteemed tradition of hospitality in Lebanon. The Lebanese consider it an honor to receive guests in their homes; friends and relatives visit each other often to care for their relationships. In theory, hospitality requires that anything offered be accepted, but generally the offer must be declined once or twice before accepting. If something is flatly rejected, a courteous explanation should be offered. People invited to lunch usually do not leave before 4 pm, and those invited to dinner stay all afternoon. It is extremely rude to leave immediately after your meal. Foreign guests should refrain from talking about politics or religion, unless it is proposed to do so.
The football is the most popular sport in Lebanon. During the summer, people like to bathe on the beaches, and skiing is a popular winter sport. Many people go to the movies. Much of the free time is spent visiting friends and relatives. Before the war, Beirut was the center of a cosmopolitan Arab culture. Music, literature and other arts and entertainment are making a comeback in the city; many people go to restaurants and nightclubs at night.
In Lebanon, both Christian and Muslim holidays are celebrated; Christian holidays are governed by the western solar calendar and Muslim holidays by the Islamic lunar calendar.
The International New Year is observed on January 1, while the Islamic New Year is celebrated in summer. On February 9, the feast of Saint Maron, remembers the saint to whom the Maronite Christian Church owes its name, to which the majority of Lebanese Christians belong.
Easter is observed, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Other Christian festivals are: the Assumption, on August 15, which commemorates the day that Mary’s body ascended to heaven; the Day of All Saints, on November 1, when remembered all the saints of the Christian calendar; and Christmas, December 25.
Muslim holidays are ‘Aid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration commemorating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and’ Aid al-Adha (The Feast of Sacrifice), which recalls Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice to his son by order of Allah; many families kill an animal to celebrate the grace of Allah, which allowed Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead of his son. In autumn, the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad is also celebrated.
Labor Day (May 1) and National or Independence Day (November 22) are secular holidays.