I had been living in the States for quite a while, so when the day came and my American boyfriend proposed, the trip back to Beirut had become inevitable! He had to meet my family and discover my hometown. Here’s what happened.


First my parents welcomed the engagement news in the weirdest way possible: why in the world couldn’t I find one single good Lebanese man to marry instead of a foreigner, and why so far away? A European guy might have been a better alternative, maybe?

Lost in translation

The day we arrived to Beirut, where 20 of my closest friends and relatives were picking us up at the airport, my mom greeted us with her usual to’obrineh (good luck explaining to my fiancé why my mom would welcome us with ‘bury me’). And my fiancé wouldn’t understand why I was calling everyone “My Love” (Habibi and Hayete).

Food coma

Obviously my mom had prepared a huge Lebanese feast over which my entire family gathered (she had been cooking for three whole weeks and storing all the yummy food in the “special events freezer”). Needless to say, this lunch and every other meal we had lasted 3 hours, which gave my family plenty of time to share with my fiancé the essentials of the Lebanese language (mainly name calling).

The wedding experience

During our stay, we were invited to a wedding. Of course I had mentally prepared my fiancé to the whole nine yards (zaffé, zalghouta, huge fireworks, fancy everything, etc.) but as we say “el 7aké mech metel el chawfé” and needless to say, he had the shock of his lifetime.

No touchy

It took my fiancé a while to get used to all the “touchy” greetings that is typically Lebanese: while the men might seem macho, they are definitely gonna greet their bros with a big kiss on the cheek and the hug that comes with it.

The daily cultural shock

This involves the crazy driving around, the military checkpoints, and the ladies with their full make-up on dressed like they were going clubbing even though they’re only going to the grocery store.


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Mona Boustany on Apr 14, 2016 via mobile web