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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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Cedars of Lebanon & The Lebanese Flag


The Lebanon Cedar is the national emblem of Lebanon and is found on their flag, coat of arms, government logos and on currency. To the Lebanese, the cedar is a symbol of holiness, hope, freedom and peace.

The cedar of Lebanon is mentioned 77 times in the Bible.

On the Lebanese flag, the cedar stands out to represent peace and holiness.The white stripe represents the snow capped peaks of Lebanon's mountains and is a symbol of purity and peace. The two red stripes represent the blood that the Lebanese have shed to preserve their country against invaders, symbolizing martyrdom and self-sacrifice.


Can you see those people? That's how big Lebanon cedars are!
Source

The cedar forests are the oldest documented forests in history. The trees used to cover a large part of the country. For thousands of years they were an important source of income and heavily used in construction, for example to build ships and temples. Their importance was such that they featured prominently in an ancient Sumerian story, one of the very earliest written records from the third millennium BC.

Lebanese currency from 1988
Photo Credit: James Malone (CC)
Unfortunately, after years of exploitation, there are only a few old trees still found in Lebanon, and only a small portion of the forests remain. There are several reserves in an effort at reforestation, but it's taking time since cedar trees grow very slowly. 

There's a forest of cedars called the Forest of the Cedars of God that's considered a sacred forest. It's in the Qadisha Valley that also holds one of the most important early Christian monastic settlements in the world. The valley and the forest are a UNESCO world heritage site. 

Qadisha Valley, almost 50 km long, filled with monasteries and churches, and home to the Forest of the Cedars of God.
Photo Credit: Sean Long (CC)

6 comments:

  1. That enormous cedar tree is so beautiful. I can almost imagine the energy it gives off when you're up close to it.

    I'm so pleased you're visiting the Middle East this year. It's a part of the world one always associates with conflict because of what we hear in the news, but it is also the cradle of civilisation, with so much rich cultural and spiritual history. I'm looking forward to learning lots.

    And I'm glad you're revisiting France, too, because I missed it first time round and it's our nearest overseas neighbour! Your niece and nephew are very lucky to have an auntie who loves exploring other cultures in such a fun, hands-on way. :-)

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    1. Thank you Lucinda :) I'm also glad to be venturing into the Middle East, like you say, there is such rich cultural history there!

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  2. I wonder if the cedar there is anything like the cedar here. If so, I'm not visiting Lebanon because my allergies would go crazy.

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    1. The cedars look different than the ones we have here - but there must be some relation (or so I assume!)

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  3. Interesting. I can see I am going to enjoy these posts as much as your African and Chinese ones (especially as I am starting from no knowledge at all on Lebanon)

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    1. We're starting off with pretty much no knowledge either - thanks for the vote of confidence because I'm at a loss right now about what to write!

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