The Bizarre Tradition Of Zambo Celebrated In Tripoli, Lebanon Each Year

Zambo Festival
Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP l Khaled Habashiti/Xinhua

Every year during this time, men and women, boys and girls of all ages and various denominations, locals, and foreigners, converge on the streets of old Mina, Tripoli for the Zambo festival.

Zambo, a Brazilian custom, is unique to El Mina near Tripoli, Lebanon, occurring just before the start of Orthodox Lent, traditionally celebrated on the last Sunday before Lent begins.

During this festival, young men participate by painting their bodies with black and various colors. They also decorate themselves with “feathers” on their heads and hands.

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While roaming the streets, they express a symbolic desire to break free from bondage and achieve freedom. This act represents a fasting march aimed at liberating believers from their desires and sins.

After wandering the streets of the city, the young men throw themselves into the sea to remove the paint from their bodies.

In recent years, Zambo is no longer exclusively a Christian event, as it draws participants from across the city and the religious spectrum.

This festival, passed down for more than 100 years, is enjoyed from generation to generation.

For the people of Mina, Zambo is more than just a celebration—it’s a cherished tradition that unites the community and showcases the rich tapestry of Lebanese heritage.

With its infectious energy and vibrant spirit, Zambo continues to reign supreme as one of the most anticipated events of the year in Mina.

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