The Lebanese family: everyday is Sunday
The Lebanese family: everyday is Sunday

مشاهير ومتفرقات - Wednesday, October 5, 2022 3:51:00 PM

Celeste abou rjeili

For Lebanese, family is everything.


Buildings get constructed to accommodate the entire family long-term, with apartments preordained to each child. Cousins, grandparents, and siblings stay close to each other. Sunday is considered a nationwide family day, to dine on a table that stretches three meters long at a restaurant or to gather at teta’s for a home-cooked meal.


Yet I think many Lebanese take the unconditional love of their relatives for granted. In our minds, this is what family is: a group of people who will do anything and everything you need them to do without asking, even when they don’t necessarily want to. Family means sacrifice and commitment.


Our approach towards family often gets compared to that of other Mediterranean and Latin American countries, where, one interviewee said, “their closeness goes on for life, unlike in Western cultures,” in which children are at risk of being kicked out of the house at 18 years old.


The country has mended itself to fit these enduring values. Most Lebanese will not be available on Sundays if you ask them to make plans. Most allocate a significant portion of their time to family, leaving them less free to spend time with friends. Close friends are well acquainted with each other’s entire families. And very distant relatives may even bear a strong connection; for instance, I often eat with my cousin’s wife’s nieces.


Family is a bond that is stronger than the blood that binds it. It’s a team. It is unconditional. Another interviewee described families as clans, whereby each member must provide for their own. “If you have a family, you are strong,” he said.


He explained that Lebanon does not provide equal opportunities for all; the country doesn’t encourage its citizens to be independent. In such a system, “it makes you feel like you need to depend because the government doesn’t provide the basics.” And this is why family comes in as a substitute, filling in the gaps of our dysfunctional system.


Family values may be the most beautiful part of the Lebanese identity. Lebanese can rest assured that, no matter what they face or experience, they will never have to face it alone.


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