Lebanese people are socialites to the depth of their core. No secret here. It’s like their aura is a neon flashing “Let’s get together now!” They even claim it’s in their blood (most probably the DNA).
Whatever their situation, good or bad or in between, they have to have more than occasional gatherings, planned and unplanned (mostly the latter), and do what they do best: socialize.
For those new to the Lebanese culture and lifestyle, some guidance is required to get ready for it or, better said, to be part of it and feel belonging.
Here is what you should expect whatever the size and occasion of the social gathering, and whatever the location, even if abroad.
#1 Learn latest politics before you head to the gathering
Politics is the most discussed topic in Lebanese gatherings; local politics, neighboring and regional politics, and all the way to the American politics passing by the Russian, the French, the Iranian, and you name it.
Just don’t underestimate the Lebanese people’s expertise in the subject, regardless of their ages and educational background or lack thereof. They know it all and they love discussing it.
P.S. That applies only to the general public. We can’t vouch for those who reach official seats.
If you’re lucky enough, all attendees will be from the same political side. Otherwise, you’d probably be witnessing some civilized (or not) confrontations. A word of advice, don’t agree or disagree.
#2 Wear at least one fashionable piece
We say “at least” but the norm is to be fashionable from head to toe whatever the budget or the lack of it. Just try your best. Lebanese have an acute sense of fashion, and aesthetic matters to them, and you just don’t want to feel “out”.
Luckily, even torn-off jeans are in fashion.
#3 Prepare to share your bio
That includes some briefs about your parents, maybe your grandparents, aside from your life journey till the time you reach that gathering. Not that Lebanese are curious, it’s just that they are genuinely eager to know everything about you.
#4 Learn a few words of French and Lebanese
You’re gonna need those to fit in. We didn’t cite English since you already know it or you wouldn’t be reading this.
Lebanese tend to mix these 3 languages when exchanging greetings and opinions or sharing the story of their life.
#5 Be ready for humorous sarcasm
One of the Lebanese people’s most famous characteristics, their humorous sarcasm won’t lack in their socialization.
Pretty much like the American Express famous brand slogan: “Don’t leave home without it.” That’s it, it’s in their pocket to draw out and use at any time. You’ll enjoy this, especially if you’ve heeded this listicle #1 and got to learn local politics.
P.S. Don’t worry, their sarcasm is always mostly directed to their own misfortunes and each other.
#6 Abstain from making obscene jokes and remarks
The Lebanese people’s humor and wittiness don’t stipulate one can make obscene jokes. The Lebanese don’t appreciate these, especially in the presence of women.
#7 Go on an empty stomach
Unless the socialization is in a nightclub where it all starts with drinks and more drinks, spare your stomach the excess of food consumption as all Lebanese gatherings include food and food, and more (delicious) food.
#8 There will be secret stories to know about
There will be gossips, even if they aren’t (somehow) deemed as such during these socializations. It’s just that we like to share what’s new in our surroundings, even if it doesn’t concern us at all.
You know, like the colleague whose shirts are worth more than his salary, or the neighbor who bought a luxury car during the economic crisis, and so on. It’s just too juicy not to share.
#9 Be ready for some bragging
There is always that… An uncle that made millions, the house daddy bought in Monte-Carlo, the achievements of the offspring, the brand new car, the better university, the Gucci purse that costs too much not to speak about, and so on.
Somehow, there is this unspoken yet very existing sense of competition in Lebanese society that is most relevant during socialization. Who did better than who, and who is better than who, and the likes.
What can be done? We Lebanese are raised by examples of who is doing better than us. “Look at your cousin scoring As!” And “You are more beautiful than her” and “Can’t you be like xyz?”
#10 You’ll be asked what do you do for a living
This is unavoidable. In fact, it’s probably the first question people asked in Lebanon when they first meet someone. “What do you work?” It’s kinda an eagerness to know from the start with whom we are dealing.
#11 You’ll be asked which university you graduated from
Education is hugely important for the Lebanese. Parents sacrifice most of what they own to educate their children, so no wonder the topic of your Uni will pop up if you are new to that gathering group.
And there’s that bragging side… Just don’t take it personally.
#12 The mix of fun and sadness
You will be enjoying the gathering when suddenly a sad story pops up. There are always some sad stories that would be shared in a society always struggling with crises. But that won’t last. Soon, someone will break the sad silence with a joke or an uplifting story.
#13 You may get to witness the Lebanese fight over the bill
If the gathering is around a meal in a restaurant, you might get to witness first-hand the famous Lebanese fight over who will pay the bill. Don’t freak out. It’s always harmless and verbal, with some pulling from all sides on that small piece of paper.
#14 You will certainly make new friends
It’s impossible to leave a Lebanese gathering without having made new friends. Lebanese are very friendly people (when politics is not involved, of course) and tend to want to be friends with any and all new people in the circle. And they make all efforts to make it happen.
#15 There will always be more to come
A Lebanese gathering doesn’t end without new plans arising halfway through and a few new invitations on your calendar. These are not just “let’s get together soon.” There are more of “What are you doing tomorrow? Let’s go to the beach! We pick you up at 10 am?”