Christmas is for sure a very merry time, and in Lebanon, it is the merriest. From North to South, people decorate their houses, streets, and stores in the jolliest ways possible. Nonetheless, your Christmas vacation in Lebanon is not considered complete if you do not at least do three of the things listed below.
#1 Going to Starbucks only to try out Christmas cups
This is a fact; Lebanese people during the holidays do not go to Starbucks for coffee, but actually for the red Christmas-themed cups. Today I was at a Starbucks and I ordered my usual cup of coffee, size venti.
Turns out Christmas cups do not come venti-sized, so the barista offered me the grande Christmas cup as a gift so my Starbucks-Christmas-experience doesn't get ruined!
#2 Watching a Christmas movie at home
My sisters and I usually buy a large box of caramel popcorn from our nearest local cinema theater in Beirut and then cuddle up for a night of hot chocolate and cliche Christmas movie.
#3 Taking plenty of pictures with Christmas trees
From City Center and ABC's Christmas trees to the one at our houses, Christmas season does not pass without endless Instagram stories of our photos with Christmas trees behind us, or our cup of tea with the Christmas tree behind it, or our dog hiding in our Christmas tree, or almost anything with a Christmas tree background to keep the season jolly.
#4 Baking cookies for Santa
This may not be completely Lebanese, but we definitely love doing it! Hershey's chocolate chip cookies, along with a Buche de Noel is all we eat until New Year's Eve when we replace these two with makhlouta and tabbouleh.
#5 Enjoying nights of family dinners
Family dinners start on Chrismas Eve and end on New Year. Christmas vacation is the greatest time for your teta to cook lunches and dinners for an army yet expects you to eat them all in one night. Our teta may be sweet, but do fear her wrath if we did not finish her 8kg stuffed turkey!
#6 Skiing in Faraya
A storm hits Lebanon almost every Christmas vacation, which means our mountains turn whiter in snow than never before! Mums making their kids wear three shirts made of wool and two pants and three socks and gloves and sending them out to Faraya is how vacations are spent best.
#7 Visiting Jbeil Christmas village
People of Lebanon await this time of the year excitedly to get to explore the beauty of the Christmas village in Jbeil, along with the massive Christmas tree that is so creatively structured every year.
#8 Exploring Christmas decorations in cafes and restaurants
Every restaurant takes it upon itself to decorate its walls in the most Christmassy decor possible. It is always fun to visit shops during Christmas and get to experience the positive spirit behind it. And we Lebanese try not to miss any!
#9 Remembering that you have so many exams after the vacation
This is our least favorite part of Christmas vacation. Just when we thought that this is the vacation we so rightfully deserved, our teachers surprise us with a Biology exam, a Nizar Kabbani poem recitation, two pages of math homework, and memorizing the whole history of Great Lebanon just a day after the vacation ends.
#10 Texting everybody to wish them Merry Christmas
Yes, that might take 2 to 3 days, considering that we are such socialites and so community-oriented. From calling to texting, we have to cover all the list of contacts phone to make sure we don't miss anyone.
#11 Spending the vacation eating sweets
We're Lebanese and we have a sweet tooth. No debate here. Christmas is the season when our patisseries go beyond to create all kinds of very sinfully tempting pastries. From Buches de Noel and marrons glacés to maamoul and chocolates, we can't get enough of any. Diet starts right after the holidays because, during our vacation, we must indulge our sweet tooth several times a day.