Sofia & The Feast of St Barbara


HX Report has followed the progress of baby Sofia since her birth on 10 February 2017.

Sofia is the daughter of Lebanese parents R&E who are friends of MB, all earning their crust in Doha, Qatar. It’s MB’s intention to chronicle the life of Sofia in the years ahead as she grows up in the crazy Middle East, against the backdrop of regional shenanigans.

Sofia, like her parents, is a Lebanese citizen, and for the short to medium term will live in Qatar, hopefully someday returning to her Lebanese homeland when mom and dad are so minded. Many Irish people will know that feeling well. MB’s Blog Post Nr 1 told the tale of Sofias Christian Baptism and Post Nr 2 featured Sofia’s 1st Birthday of 10 February 2018.

Since Sofia’s first birthday party some 11 months back, there have been local dark clouds and thankfully, in more recent weeks and months, some very welcome green shoots. Dark clouds have included the recent assassination of Turkish journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul which has made for bleak reading and disturbing headlines around the world. The endless strife between Palestinians and the State of Israel continues on a weekly basis, most distressingly on the Gaza border each Friday when the inevitable deaths of young Palestinians are reported as they try to breach the Israeli established border.

Green shoots, albeit small ones, include a tale from last weekend recounted to MB in relation to Aleppo Soap, no less! MB previously wrote a post about finding the famous Aleppo Soap for sale at a Farmer’s Market in Doha. Aleppo Soap (from Aleppo, Syria) is made for at least two thousand years plus. Queen Cleopatra of Egypt was a famous celebrity user of said soap back in the day. The market trader in question, Mrs Noor, informed MB at the time that the war in Syria had destroyed the means of production of the soap but that she and husband had been fortunate enough to purchase a full container load before production ceased.

The Doha Farmers Marked restarted in recent weeks with the arrival of the cooler winter weather and MB again bumped into Mrs Noor selling her organic skin and health products. She informed MB, joy of joys, that soap production has recommenced in Aleppo, with the ending, to all intents and purposes, of the conflict. She has placed a new order to replenish her stock. Maybe Sofia will use some of it in the future. Here’s hoping.

Back to Sofia!

There’s a Christian tradition in Lebanon going back hundreds of years which revolves around celebrating the memory of St Barbara by dressing up the children in fancy clothes and going trick or treating around their home locality. Who, outside of Lebanon, could have ever have guessed there was ever a St Barbara! The tradition is also practiced by Lebanese living outside the homeland, like R&E. It’s known as Eid El Barbara (Arabic for the ‘Feast of St Barbara’) and is celebrated on the evening of 03 December each year, the night before the alleged martyrdom of Barbara on 04.

St Barbara, who lived around 300 AD was (allegedly) the daughter of an atheist father, the Governor of the Roman city of Baalbek, who eventually murdered his daughter after her adoption of the Christian faith. It’s an interesting story and a fuller explanation, for those interested, can be read on this link.

Due to doubt about the historical accuracy of the facts surrounding Barbara, the Catholic Church actually ‘de-sainted’ Barbara in 1969. But in any event, the Lebanese have carried on regardless. Any excuse for a party!

The following pics of Sofia are provided by mom R, and were taken a few days back, on the evening of 03 December 2018.

Happy Eid El Barbara to Miss Sofia!

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2 Comments on “Sofia & The Feast of St Barbara

  1. What a beautiful child Sofia is! Looking into her sweet eyes I hope that the green shoots will multiply by the thousands and that soon every shop will have an ample supply of Aleppo soap. Lovely post, MB.

    Liked by 1 person

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