Springtime Festival

Springtime Festival

Begins between March 11 and April 15; four successive Thursdays before Orthodox Easter
Celebrated by people of all religious faiths, the Springtime Festival is a regional celebration throughout the Bekáa (or Beqaa) Valley in eastern Lebanon. It takes place during Lent, on four successive Thursdays preceding the Eastern Orthodox Easter.
The first Thursday, known as Thursday-of-the-Animals, is a day of rest for domestic working animals, whose heads are decorated with a spot of henna, which is symbolic of blood and life. On the following Thursday, known as Thursday-of-the-Plants, young children and unmarried girls wash themselves in water scented with crushed flowers. Next is Thursday-of-the-Dead, a day for visiting the graves of family and friends. Last is Thursday-of-the-Jumping, or Day of the Jumping, when people living in the mountains come down by the thousands to the plains to join in the festival activities. They visit the tomb of Noah, which is outside Zahle, and then the shrine of the Wadi Zaour, a locally popular Muslim saint, in Anjar, a town that was an Armenian refugee village in the 1940s. There they receive blessings for good health. Eventually everyone returns to the villages, where there is dancing in the streets and even on the mosque grounds.
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 164
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