My ancestry is Lebanese. This is shown in my life by calling my grandparents “Giddi” and “Sitti,” which in Arabic means “my grandfather” and “my grandmother.” Also, it is shown in the foods Sitti makes such as hummus, baba ganoush, kibbie, and my favorite: rishta. Sitti may or may not have taught me a few swear words in Arabic, too, but I won’t write them here. As fun as this culture is to me, this is where my ancestral knowledge ends. So, today I wanted to dive in deeper to the culture of Lebanese people and share with you all a little more about this culture.
Lebanon is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and only in 1943 was it granted independence. Which is crazy to me because my ancestors had left Lebanon way before Lebanon was considered independent.
I see this a lot in my family, but a staple food in Lebanon is pita bread. With labneh (a yogurt spread), hummus, or baba ganoush, my family loves pita bread and it makes me happy to see we carry that unintentionally from our ancestry, too. Otherwise, Lebanese food is very Mediterranean, emphasizing rice and bean dishes with chicken and red meat being the primary protein. Also mirrored in my family, people in Lebanon rarely eat alone and family relationships are of the most importance – which my family also follows.
I didn’t realize Lebanon was so heavily involved in exports, rather my thought was that they imported a lot. However, they sell a lot of fruits and vegetables to nearby Arab countries and to Italy, France, and lo and behold the United States! They also produce wine and export it to France. I had no idea that Lebanon was so involved in exports and it is very interesting to see they supply a lot of big countries. Now, I will be on the lookout for where I can get exports from Lebanon
4. Division of Labor by Gender
Unfortunately, Lebanon is not as progressive as the United States and sticks to a very traditional way of operating. While women can vote, work, go to school, and have a social life, their jobs are encouraged to be secretaries or school teachers. Men are the ones who should work, whereas women want to be housewives. As a woman planning on attending law school, this does not sit right with me and I hope in the near future change for women to be able to do as they please.
Thankfully, education for both genders is prioritized, and parents want to send their children to private, religious high schools in order to nurture the religious aspect of the Lebanese culture, too. Also, higher education is highly encouraged for all in Lebanon, but the job market is not large so many young graduates end up with a great degree but no job.
In the end, I think it is very cool to have a small piece of this culture within me. I have never been to Lebanon, nor do I speak Arabic, but I appreciate this country and its values much more now after researching. There are things to be improved upon there, like their gender roles, but I love their love for family, education, and most importantly, pita bread. It’s eye-opening to see where some of my family values align with Lebanon’s as a whole. So, with that being said, I encourage you to take a deeper look at your ancestry because you never know what you might find out.