Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Season & Celebrations in Lebanon


Easter is the Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and for many Christians, it's the most important celebration. The Christian population in Lebanon, the largest of all Arab countries, is 40% with various communities, including Orthodox Christian, Maronite and Armenian. Though not always on the same dates for the Orthodox Christians (who follow a different calendar), Easter in Lebanon is celebrated similarly as it is in the West with processions, church services and large family gatherings. Special dishes are enjoyed, Easter eggs are decorated and everyone looks forward to the egg cracking game on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday


Special anise and sesame cookies, called Kaak el Chaanineh, are made especially for Palm Sunday, and you can find a recipe for the below cookies here

Kaak el Chaanineh, Palm Sunday Cookies
Photo Courtesy of Rosanie Nabbout of Glamroz.com
 ©

Holy week, the week preceding Easter, begins on Palm Sunday (Sha'nineh in Arabic). Palm Sunday celebrates the path of Jesus Christ's last journey into Jerusalem, when his followers laid palm branches in his path, before his crucifixion. Wearing new clothes, or at least new shoes, families parade with their children, often on their shoulders, in a procession led by a priest. They carry olive branches, branches with palm leaves, and flowers. Children carry special decorated candles, with ribbons and flowers. Children are the main participants in these processions, because Christians believe that children were the first to greet Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. It's also an occasion to celebrate peace and love for one another. Here's a quick video of a Palm Sunday procession.


Make your own special candles: all you need is a long tapered candle, ribbon, something decorative (like an artificial flower) and a glue gun. You can see examples here and here.

Good Friday
On Good Friday, as during lent, people fast and abstain from meat. The statue of Christ is taken off its altar and put into a coffin, that's then carried around the church in a procession. It's left in the coffin until the Sunday service.

Easter Sunday


A common greeting on Easter Sunday starts by saying "Al Massih Qam" (Jesus is risen from the dead) while the other responds with "Haqqan Qam" (He has truly risen).

Easter Sunday is celebrated by church services and large family gatherings. It starts at midnight with a procession of families, led by a priest to the front door of their dark and quiet church. The priest knocks loudly and calls out for the door to be opened and is refused twice, by a mysterious voice from inside. On the third time, the doors are opened, the lights come on and the congregation goes inside for a service. 



After church services, families and friends gather for a feast, where there will be no shortage of maamoul.

Maamoul - Lebanese pastries made especially for Easter
Photo Credit: Hisham Assaad (CC)

Maamoul is a traditional Easter treat. They are little semolina pastries with fillings - either dates or nuts, made in a decorative mold.  Often, the making of maamoul is a family effort with each person participating, either together or different members splitting the tasks.


We made ma'amoul, which were a big hit, and you can find the recipe here.

In Lebanon, Easter eggs were traditionally dyed brown, green, yellow and red. These days, egg decorating comes in all colors and Easter egg hunts are enjoyed in many communities. Children and adults alike especially look forward to playing the Easter egg cracking game. After lunch each person chooses a colored, hard boiled egg and the battle begins by cracking it against another person's egg. The losing egg is the one that cracks, and by tradition goes to the winner. Some play until only one egg is left with just one end cracked (or no cracks at all) and that person wins.

How To Play the Lebanese Egg Cracking Game


One person takes his/her hard boiled egg in hand, exposing just an end. The other person takes his/her egg and hits that exposed egg. The one whose egg cracked - in case above, the "cracker" not the "crackee" :) - either loses that egg, or turns it over and takes a turn being the one to hold the egg in hand, exposing the uncracked end. Once an egg is cracked on both ends, that person is out of the game. Play continues until one egg and its owner wins. 



This post is part of the Easter Around the World series on Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Follow along as we explore how Easter is celebrated in different countries!



Title image adapted with overlay. Photo Credit to Serge Melki (CC)

4 comments:

  1. I was just looking at an old post I wrote on Easter in Latvia. They use traditional dyes for their Easter eggs, onion skins being a primary one. It's really interesting.

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  2. The pastries and biscuits look very yummy and I love the dye your girls used on their eggs.

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    Replies
    1. They look really tasty - we tried ma'amoul from a Lebanese bakery a couple of weeks ago and they were delicious!

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