10 Customs Only Lebanese People Would Understand

Lebanon stands as a melting point between many different religions and ethnic identities. The merge of the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Romans, Ottoman Turks, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, and French cultures’ attributed to creating our own unique Lebanese culture.

Thus, distinctive customs, traditions, and superstitions were crafted by the hand of time and passed on to the next generation. Truth be told, we all do them all the time. Even if we do not quite know the reason behind such actions. Here are some of our oldest, funniest and most cherished Lebanese customs:

1. Knocking on the wood

Lebanese citizens of all religions are firm believers of the envious evil eye. So when someone mentions a good thing happening in their life like buying a new car, starting a new job or even being accepted at a special school, a Lebanese person would find the nearest wooden object. Then, they would knock on it. It is also done when completing a physical or non-physical trait.

They believe that such action would ward off evil and bad luck. Hence, knocking would help in preserving the object.

2. Exchanging kisses as a greeting

When two or more Lebanese people meet one another, they greet each other by words, a handshake and then kissing each other three times on the cheeks; left, right, then left again. This custom seems to be a strange hybrid between the French’s ways of greeting and Arabs.

It does not matter if the room was filled with people. You are expected to do the same drill with each and every single one of them. The Lebanese Customs and manners demand it.

3. Arguing While Using Terms of Endearment

While most Arabs use words of endearment to show affection, Lebanese people mostly use them to express a different kind of emotions. When arguing or fighting it is not strange to hear the terms ya Habibi (my dear), ya ayouni (my eyes), or ya rawhi (my soul) being shouted loudly.

Do not get me wrong, Lebanese people use all kinds of colorful language. However, using these endearment terms is never excluded from arguments or fights.

4. Breaking the evil

It is believed that breaking the coffee cup by accident wards off evil. Therefore, whenever such an accident occurs the elderly mostly would say that the evil has broken.

If a cup was spilled and not broken, that person is supposed to break the cup. Thus “breaking the evil” that allegedly inhabits the “unbreakable” cup. However, this custom is old and is now dying within the younger generation.

5. Flipping the shoe upside down

For some reason, this custom or superstition is highly sacred among the older generation. You should never ever leave any kind of footwear’s sole pointed upwards. Whenever you spot such offense, you must correct it directly by flipping it upside down or you’ll end up hearing an earful about it.

This tradition originated from an old religious belief that it is improper to leave the sole of the footwear facing heaven. However, m

6. Hospitality and Dyefe

Lebanese citizens take pride in their sense of hospitality and generosity. Even if the guest arrived unannounced, Lebanese people tend to drop everything and even cancel their own plans in order to greet the guests properly.

Whenever a guest arrives the host must offer a “deyefe”, which is usually made out of either coffee or tea and sweets. On the other hand, if a host did not have anything to offer the guest to eat, they must at least offer some water.

Not offering a “deyefe” would imply both rudeness and impoliteness.

7. Opening an Umbrella inside the House

Opening an umbrella inside a Lebanese home is a big taboo, or at least it used to be. The older generation used to believe that an open umbrella inside a home is an omen that someone of the house members is going to die.

However, this custom and superstition is fading away with the younger generation. It is regarded mostly as a myth even when grandmas freak about it..

8. Eating pita bread with everything

Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a snack, the Lebanese people will always find a way to include the pita bread with almost every meal.

The pita bread is not just limited to making sandwiches. Lebanese citizens use it while eating salad, BBC, fish, rice and everything in between. For us pita bread makes everything taste better. We eat it baked, toasted and sometimes even fried.

9. Bringing Treats and Sweets

Whenever a guest is visiting someone, they are expected to bring some kind of sweets, treats, fruits or anything edible. It is some kind of unspoken social rule here in Lebanon.

People who visit each other frequently tend to be lax on this rule. Yet, it is considered impolite to knock on someone’s door empty-handed on most occasions especially if you are invited for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

10. Using three different languages: Arabic, English, and French

Because Lebanon used to be colonized by the French, many French words are integrated to our everyday language without us even realizing that those words are not even Arabic. Add to that the huge influence the English language has on other non-English speaking countries, it is not strange for Lebanese to use all three languages at once.

While talking to a Lebanese, you might be confused when they greet you with“hi, kefk? ca va!” meaning “hi, how are you? Good!” thus using three different languages at the same time.

For a relatively new country, Lebanon and its citizens do have many customs and quirks that set them aside from the other Mediterranean countries. Even though some of those customs are fading away with time, they are deeply cherished and respected by their people.

References:

Five Customs You’ll Only Understand If You’re Lebanese. (2020). Retrieved 6 March 2020, from https://www.the961.com/listicles/5-customs-you-only-understand-if-you-are-lebanese

{{pageTitleOpenGraph}}. (2020). Retrieved 6 March 2020, from https://www.beirut.com/l/55103

10+ Most Confusing Traditions and Habits in Lebanese Culture. (2020). Retrieved 6 March 2020, from https://www.the961.com/listicles/10-most-confusing-traditions-and-habits-in-lebanese-culture

Sharif, A. (2020). 10 Customs Only Lebanese People Will Understand. Retrieved 6 March 2020, from https://theculturetrip.com/middle-east/lebanon/articles/10-customs-only-lebanese-people-will-understand/