People & Culture of the Levant
Thesis Statement: Despite the fact that some scholars say that the Levant state is heterogeneous, this research paper argues that the Levant is homogeneous. Furthermore, it also presents and analyzes cultural identities and differences between Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine after the mandate.
The Levant exhibits the geographical, social, cultural, linguistic, religious and political patterns and structures of many civilizations. Highly diverse ways of life produced a broad array of possible social identities. Typical of the cities of the Levant was a mixed population.
· Define culture.
· Similarities between Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese cultures.
· Identifying their differences.
· Important cultural elements of each country.
· Important key practices of each country.
Syria: Part of the Levant being under the French mandate. Bilad Al Sham, Damascus. “Syria is ethnically fairly homogeneous (80 percent of the population is Arab).”
· Traditional Food Examples: Syrian Kibbeh, Mezzeh (hummus, falafel).
· Syrian Folk music and dance (Dabke), instruments used (darbouka, daf or riq).
· Wedding: “The wedding starts the night before usually on Friday. A small party known as ‘khyapta d khitna ‘or shower of the groom is held in the groom’s house.”
· Literature Poetic Influence: Nizar Qabbani.
Lebanon: Part of the Levant being under the French mandate. Syria and Lebanon occupy the northern part of the Levant, bordering the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea.
· Traditional Food Examples: Kibbeh, Kafta, Kanafeh, Hummus, Fattoush, etc….
· One of the traditional and folk music and dance which can be named from Lebanon is Dabke.
· Some traditional music instruments which are used in Dabke are oud (lute instrument), mijwiz (wind instrument), tablah , daff (both are drum instruments).
Palestine: Palestine is home to Jerusalem, which is known as the Holy Land for all three monotheistic religions. It has been under occupation for over a century. It is rich in culture and is known for its traditions that have remained the same throughout time. It is considered the most homogenous nation of all Arabs. The name comes from Aramaic language which means blessed land.
· Traditional food examples: Msakhan, Maklouba, Qidreh, Mjaddara, Mezzeh.
· Dance and music: Palestinian dabke, folkloric music.
· Some of the most common instruments used for dabke music are Oud, which looks like a pear-shaped guitar; mijwiz, which is a kind of reed clarinet; tableh, which is a hand drum; and tambourine.
· Literature Poetic Influence: Taha Muhammad Ali.
Similarities & Differences between Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine, such as:
· Food (how conquers allowed food to spread and be similar between different cultures in the Levant?)
· Music (how specific cultural or national music permitted the above countries to be diverse?)
· Language (how sharing one language with different dialects make the levant a unique historical experience?)
· Religions (how introducing different religious groups in one specific region allowed the Levant to live in harmony?)
· Customs and traditions (how similar and distinct folklores and mythologies affect the Levant positively and negatively?)
· Literature (how each cultural poet figure expressed the love of their country)
Syria: Great Syria is part of the Levant and was under the French mandate. Levant in Arabic is “Bilad Al Sham” and “Sham” is usually associated with “Damascus” the capital city of Syria. The geolocation of Syria is located on the Fertile Crescent sharing borders with, Lebanon, Modern day Turkey, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan. Because of Syria’s location they have influenced other cultures, as well as, other cultures have influenced them and this will be shown through; Folklore music, dance, food, and religion. However, they have their differences which nationalizes them and differentiates them from the other Levantine countries through their cultural practices and things they are known for such as; Nizar Qabbani a famous poet. In each Levantine country there are subcultures, ethnic groups of people living in the Levant, for example, Armenian’s living in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and many more. Kurds living in Syria and Iraq. Assyrians living in Syria.
Traditional food in Syria: “For Syrians, food is an especially important part of national identity. Syrian cuisine has evolved over thousands of years of conquests, trading and migrations, shaped and blended by dozens of peoples: Arab, Kurdish, Druze, Armenian, Circassian, Assyrian, Alawite, Turkish, Turkmen, Palestinian, Ismaili, Greek, Jewish, Yazidi. The Syrian table is an expression of a multicultural country and a way of living together that is being destroyed by civil war.” (Steavenson). Syrians have many Mezzah’s that are shared with the Levant; they are very similar yet some of them are different by using different herbs and spices which are traditional in their region. The Syrian cuisine is very strongly influenced by the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordanian and Iraqi. The similar Mezzah’s are; “Hummus, Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Labneh, Shawarma, Mujaddara, Shanklish, Waraq ‘inab, Bastirma, Sujuk and Baklava.” (Syria; Culture, History and Civilization). Main dishes include, Freekeh with chicken, and Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, sometimes served in yogurt or raw. Arak is a traditional alcoholic drink in Syria, it is transparent and is mixed with water and turns opaque. They usually drink Arak on special occasions such as weddings.
Customs and tradition:
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