How Does Lebanon Celebrate Valentine’s Day?
As we all know, the 14th of February is Valentine’s Day. It is a day where couples celebrate and show their love by giving cards, gifts, and chocolates.
It was originally created by the Romans as a pagan festival (Festival of Juno Februa) in mid-February to honor Juno, the goddess of women and marriage; but it only became associated with romantic love in Europe after Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned “Valentines” in The Canterbury Tales.
In Lebanon, because we are people who like to be different from others (remember our independence celebrations?), Valentine’s Day has been given its own Lebanese name: “Youm el Iwaheb”, which means Lover’s Day.
No matter what part of the world you are from, people will always have different ways of celebrating. Some countries prefer to celebrate with a meal out while others might give gifts or flowers. Others still choose to exchange cards and little chocolates. In Lebanon however, Valentine’s Day is not really celebrated by couples because they believe that this day should be only for celebrating the love between family members like mother’s day or father’s day.
That being said, how does Lebanon celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Lebanon shares a lot of its traditions with other neighboring countries, mostly different types of food and drinks. However, we also have some very unique traditions of our own:
– Making red paper hearts decorated with special phrases asking for love or appreciation from a certain someone. These are hung on the entrances of shops to show their affection towards their customers.
– Painting eggs in vivid colors and eating them hard-boiled or as omelets are still practiced in Lebanon. People believe that the brighter the color, the more you will attract “good luck,” so most people try to use bright colors in their egg painting skills. Valentine’s Day sees an increase in egg sales since people buy heart shapes to decorate their eggs.
– Making sweets like baklava with different fillings. Lebanese girls cook with their mothers and make various types of sweet treats to give to their loved ones that day.
– Singing ” Youm Iwaheb Bhebbak ” (Lover’s Day, I love you) songs on the streets and in the marketplace is another tradition where young guys serenade girls they like by playing musical instruments (tabal, ney, violin…etc.) while singing romantic poems written specifically for this occasion.
Ways to Celebrate:
Valentine’s Day in Lebanon starts around a month before it takes place when shops decorate themselves with heart-shaped balloons and strung up paper hearts and red banners all across their stores. At this time, people start to get cards and gifts ready for the day.
On Lover’s Day itself, shops dress their windows with red displays of heart-shaped sweets, flowers, and stuffed animals. Shops also decorate their floors with beautiful carpets of pink roses so couples can sit together on this special day and enjoy some chocolate or baklava while they drink tea, coffee…etc.
Along with the decoration of stores is a sale on chocolates since it is Valentine’s Day. So you can find boxes upon boxes full in every store! This makes it very affordable to buy your loved one something nice in Lebanon.
People give cards to their loved ones at school, work, in the streets…etc. It is very common for people to make their own cards with messages of love or poems written by them. So if you are ever in Lebanon during this time, try to pick up a few Valentine’s Day cards for your loved one at any store around town!
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