A Magical Time of the Year

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Christmas is a special time of year, a time filled with festivities and cheer. The lights are up, magic fills the air as people rush to get gifts. Children wait in anticipation for Father Christmas and all the gifts they will be receiving. All the wrapped presents under the tree topped with a golden star for all to see. But those gifts don’t at all compare to the beauty of having the family around. As we start this solemn slalom towards a week that ends engorged, with stomachs bloated whilst we gloat and toast a perfect holiday, let us remember that December is about reunion, love, and sharing this small world we inhabit.

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Beauty in Geometry

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Saloua Raouda Choucair is a pioneer of abstract art in the Middle East. Born in 1916, she takes her rightful position as a significant figure in the history of twentieth-century art. Beirut is very important to her. It’s where she was born. She loves this city. She isn’t nostalgic of it she says. She believes in the future, trusting the exploration of science and space.

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The Ruby Jewel of Lebanon

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The pomegranate originated in the region of modern-day Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region and northern India. In Lebanon it is typically in season from September to February. Its name derives from Medieval Latin pōmum “apple” and grānātum “seeded”. While the apple usually takes the blame for humanity’s fall from grace, some biblical scholars have suggested that the forbidden fruit of the Bible wasn’t an apple, but this red beauty.

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The National Dish

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I always laugh when the mother in law in My Big Fat Greek Wedding is flabbergasted that her son in law doesn’t eat meat. A Lebanese version of that would be: “You don’t eat no Kibbeh? Kiff ya3neh? Ba3milak kibbet batata? Tayeb kibbet la2’tin? Shou? El borghol bya3milak nafkha! Ma a3m bifham!” (What do you mean? Shall I make you a potato kibbeh? How about a pumkin kibbe then? What? You feel bloated after eating bulgur? I don’t get it!)

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The Healers

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Where the light cascades in streaming beauty, the children of forever lie in their beds with sweet faces smiling to the morning sun. As the birds sing with gentle tunes, they adorn their hair with petals of servitude and strength. All here are of harmonious voice and love rules this place in gratitude. All the songs sung here are healing, sending hope to the bravest of them all.

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The Reserve

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The largest of Lebanon’s nature reserves, Al-Shouf Biosphere Reserve stretches from Dahr Al-Baidar in the north to Niha Mountain in the south and overlooks both the Bekaa valley to the east and the Shouf valley to the west. Blanketed with oak forests on its northeastern slopes and juniper and oak forests on its southeastern slopes, the reserves most famous attractions are its three magnificent cedar forests of Maasser Al-Shouf, Barouk, and Ain Zhalta. At the local level several of the cedar stands are recognized as outstanding scenic landscapes, the larger cedars contributing in a most distinctive way to the landscape. It covers an area of 50,000 hectares, equivalent to about 5% of the overall area of Lebanon, making it one of the largest mountain protected areas in the Middle East.

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The Calm and the Peaceful

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Niha is a town in the Chouf area which belongs to Mount Lebanon. The word neeha in Syriac means calm and peaceful. As most names carry a poetic feel to their place, Niha is truly a serene place. Among its olive groves and its grapes, apples, plums and almonds trees, Niha, like most corners in Lebanon, owns a cultural and historical richness that dwells in the heritage of this country.

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The Superfood

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The Ark of Taste, which is a foundation created by Slow Food International, Slow Food Italy, and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, is an operational body for the protection of food biodiversity. They travel the world collecting small-scale quality productions that belong to the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet: an extraordinary heritage of fruits, vegetables, animal breeds, cheeses, breads, sweets and cured meats. The Ark was created to point out the existence of these products, draw attention to the risk of their extinction within a few generations, and invite everyone to take action to help protect them. In some cases this might be by buying and consuming them, in some by telling their story and supporting their producers.

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The Power of the Eye

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It is thought that the “evil eye” belief had its roots in ancient Egypt, and it was passed on later to Mediterranean tribes and cultures. The evil eye is a human look believed to cause harm to someone or something else. The supernatural harm may come in the form of anything from a minor misfortune to disease, injury or even death. The victim’s good fortune, good health, or good looks, can provoke an attack by someone with the evil eye. If the object attacked is animate, it may fall ill. If the object attacked is a cow, its milk may dry up; if a plant or fruit tree, it may suddenly wither and die. It can even affect objects and buildings. The evil eye cast upon a house may soon develop a leaky roof or an insect infestation. To sum it up, just about anything that goes wrong (for any reason, or no reason at all) is blamed on the power of the evil eye.

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