BEIRUT: Across Lebanon people gathered in churches and homes to mark Easter Sunday.
In the town of Maghdoushe in the southern Sidon region, the local Ethiopian community held religious service and celebrations including song and dance. The celebration, mainly by women wearing blue with crosses painted on their clothes and bodies, is a brief respite for a roughly 100,000 strong community who mainly work as domestic helpers and service workers and are prone to abuse and inequality in Lebanon.
The town of Maghdoushe itself is home to an ancient religious shrine to Our Lady of Mantara, and is a pilgrimage site for Melkite Greek Catholics.
In the main town square, egg and treasure hunts were held for children dressed in white with flowers in their hair. The search for chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies was accompanied by smiles and laughter. While churches are adorned with flowers and hymns were sung, not all of the traditions were explicitly Christian. The ubiquitous Easter bunny, for example, is not featured in the Bible story.
After finding the chocolate eggs, children and adults alike indulged in the timeless tradition of egg fights, where two people each hold an egg and smash them together – the one whose egg remains un-cracked wins.
In the capital Beirut, church bells rang as people gathered across the city’s neighborhoods, leaving the streets empty.
Taking part in official and local religious gatherings, several politicians issued celebratory messages to those taking part in the festivities.
“Every year Lebanon is a jewel of moderation and common living, Happy Easter to Christians of the western denominations,” Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted. Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter next week.
Speaker Nabih Berri offered his best wishes to Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai on the occasion, after President Michel Aoun met the spiritual leader at Bkirki before attending Easter Mass Sunday morning.
Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblatt tweeted: “Congratulations to everyone on the day of regeneration and rebirth of life.”