As Lebanon is a relatively new country, there aren’t many traditions that the Lebanese can truly call their own. However, the locals have taken all the influences of other countries and developed a set of mannerisms only they will understand. Nothing beats trying to navigate the strange social customs that the people of Lebanon have.
Many Arab nationalities have their own version of the Dabke, a traditional form of line dancing usually performed at parties. In Lebanon, the Dabke is a sacred show of skill and geography. Every part of the country has its unique variation, and what might seem like aimless stomping to you is actually a learned skill. Are you still having a hard time understanding Dabke? Don’t worry—a portion of the younger generation in Lebanon shares your opinion.
Watching certain television channels
In Lebanon, TV time is sacred, especially when it comes to parents and their eight o’clock news. However, the population thinks that each local channel airs news differently, and that has resulted in every household having both a favorite and hated channel, bringing on many hilarious conversations and conspiracy theories about how journalists are biased.
Eating pita bread with everything
You aren’t Lebanese unless you eat pita with everything—even in the morning with Nutella®! On some occasions, some people will even scoop tabbouleh up with a piece of bread because the Lebanese believe that anything tastes good with this pastry.
Making up words to suit the situation
The locals are infamous for defying every grammar rule in the book. If you’re new here, it can become difficult trying to navigate the new vocabulary. For example, if you say “Hi” or “Bonjour” to a Lebanese person, they might reply “Hi-yyen” or “Bonjour-ren.” The “-en” addition here corresponds with the Arabic affix that doubles the word, which is to say that a Lebanese person will take your greeting and double it!
Using words from three different languages
Speaking of being infamous for laughing in the face of language—the locals will baffle you with their established dialect. It’s a mix of English, French, and Arabic (sometimes even more). Lebanon, having been a French colony, still exhibits a lot of influences, especially with words such as balcon, domage, and gâteau, whichare so commonly used that people forget they’re French. Couple that with a new globalized youth, and you get the phrase that’s in every joke about Lebanon: “Hi, kifak? Ça va?”. (Hi, how are you? Good?)
Listening to Fairuz
In the morning—okay, all the time. If your parents did not wake you up because they had Fairuz on too loudly in the morning, you weren’t raised in a Lebanese household. You haven’t been in a Lebanese car if you haven’t blasted Fairuz—in the morning. The singer has become a staple of the Lebanese identity, and her often crooning tunes make her a perfect option for a local’s morning.
Complaining about Lebanon
But missing it anyways. If you know a Lebanese person who is outside of the country, you’ve been baffled by the never-ending love and homesickness they feel for the land of “friendliness and family.” What you may not know is that the same person will spend hours complaining about Lebanon when he or she is actually there. If you’re Lebanese, then you understand this. The people of Lebanon love their country but from afar.
Using terms of endearment when arguing
If you know any Arab person, then you are probably familiar with the word Habibi (my love or dear). Despite its meaning, you’ll hear it come out of a local’s mouth most when they’re arguing with someone. Terms such as Habibi and Ouyouni (my eyes) are, to some people, exclusively used when angry. Between close friends, swear words are used as terms of endearment instead.
Having to be home at sundown
As a Lebanese child, you probably had the coolest parents if you didn’t have to run home minutes before sundown. No one has figured out what it is about sundown that has Lebanese parents all over the country waiting for their kids by the door with a glare. The adults themselves may not even know why they have that rule—only that they do. Those same children that swear they won’t be like their parents? Yeah, they’ll wait by the door at sundown too.
The word Inshallah
The word Inshallah (or if God wills it) can mean several different things. You may ask someone for a favor, and if they answer Inshallah, they might be serious, meaning that they’ll do it later. However, if you feel the tone is off, then that person is probably being sarcastic, and the word’s meaning ranges from maybe to never, depending on how sarcastic the person is being. If you ask your mom for something and she says Inshallah, then know it’ll never happen.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.