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Friday, 4 December 2015

Eid El-Burbara

Eid El-Burbara is when we remember Saint Barbara, a 7th Century Lebanese woman who, legend says, disguised herself in many characters to elude persecution of her Baalbec sun-worshipping father because she decided to become a Christian. It is also said that wheat grew out of season and several metres taller than usual to hide her as she ran away from her father; who eventually caught her and cut her head off. 

When I was a kid, Eid El-Burbara included running around in masks, fireworks, and boiled wheat with sugar and nuts to reflect elements of her story. The following video is a great depiction of this celebration by my favourite Lebanese singer, Sabah.

While fireworks and masks rituals are slowly disappearing, December 4th sweets ritual is very much alive.

Zlabeyeh is a version of donuts that is made on Eid El-Burbara - fried spiced dough that is dipped in the famous Lebanese sugar syrup - the syrup is a common element of all this feast's sweets.

Attayef are my favourite Eid El-Burbara sweets - dough pockets that are somewhere between pancakes and crépes, stuffed with Ashta (Lebanese cream - the white ones in the background of picture above) and drizzled with pistachios and rose petal jams; or stuffed with walnuts, sugar and rose/orange blossom waters. The walnuts version is eaten raw or deep fried; always covered with the glittering sugar syrup (the brown ones to the left above).

It doesn't stop here. Three other Eid El-Burbara sweets are the Mshabbak (the coloured ones to the left above), Maacroon (the dark fried etched cookies to the right) and ..

Ouwamat, the round ones (above). All three are basically the same dough, but vary in shapes and spicing but all are dipped in the sugar syrup. I couldn't have timed this trip better.

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