3 December 2019
The Christmas season is finally here and the celebrations in our city have already started with Saint Barbara feast on December the 4th, a celebration that Syrian children look forward to every year.
The masks and costumes, the wheat based traditional dessert, sweet pastry and a hymn dedicated to the young Saint Barbara, are traditions passed through generations in the middle east and traced back to 300 ac.
Despite the numerous versions of her martyrdom story, Barbara’s anniversary has always been such joyous occasion for Syrian children, even after the long years of war where such celebrations were long forgotten due to the hard conditions the war have caused.
This year, Al-Enayeh school wanted to throw the students a traditional Barbara costume party to share the holiday bounty together. The celebration date was set on Tuesday, November the 3rd and the kids all came to their school in the early morning, but instead of uniform they were all wearing distinguished disguises and innovative costumes, the teaching board had already prepared the hall and organized some games and karaoke dances for the children. In addition, a magician was going to entertain the kids with bunch of fascinating tricks as one of the segments. To ensure that children not only enthusiastically celebrate but also blend the pleasure of feasting with the values that lie behind these inherited traditions and what they stand for, the children watch a short movie showcasing the life of Saint Barbara and discuss afterwards with Fr. Yorgi Abiad each and every symbol and its resemblance.
The students were divided into two groups according to their ages; 166 child from kindergarten to the 3rd grade have gathered first at the hall and enjoyed their time playing games, dancing and sharing a meal of savory pastry, some sweets and of course the Famous boiled wheat, sugar, cinnamon, anise and nuts aromatic combination called “sleeqa”. While the little ones are celebrating, the older 154 students from 4th to 6th grades were preparing themselves and putting the final touches on their costumes for their party.
During this event we interviewed Ms. Abeer Ahmar Dakno from the school administration and the Barbara party host, she expressed the administration’s appreciation of all the efforts made and the donation from the polish schools that were key to help the school organize the St. Barbara parties and the upcoming Christmas events, “During the war such events were impossible to have, for so many reasons we often didn’t have the resources because of the blockades and the financial circumstances, not to mention that coming to school was itself a challenge fraught with danger because of the armed conflict all over the city”, she nostalgically recalls what a typical holiday season used to be like in the Syrian homes, as well as in the schools “it used to be a season of joy, the most wonderful time of year, children would comes with their disguises, teachers would be wearing costumes too for the St. Barbara feast and we would gather to decorate the Christmas tree with colorful ornaments as we prepare our hearts to welcome the newborn Jesus delightfully”.
Abeer shares: “the economic crisis has suffocated the community, and despite that, our city is slowly recovering from the war but the financial hardships are still a big challenge to overcome”. This is where the importance of this generous donations of the polish schools arises. “I want to thank the School to School program for this heartwarming gesture, because of it we were able to draw a smile back on the children’s faces and spread the Christmas spirit all around to bring joy and serenity back to their little hearts after the war had stolen its warmth a long time ago”.