Syria has a rich cultural heritage that is hardly ever spoken about due to the unfortunate crisis that is dominating the headlines about the country. So, we selected some unusual and captivating facts that we thought you might like to know:
Bring swords and shields to a wedding in Damascus
The traditional Damascene wedding always includes the performance of a traditional artform called “Aradah Shamyeh العراضة الشامية”. It includes a group of 20-50 men in classic Damascene uniform, repeating a chant to the rhythm of instruments such as drums. In addition to being performed during weddings, “Aradah Shamyeh” is also common when people return from Mecca and during other significant and joyous occasions.
Where does Turkey meet France? In Syria!
Throughout history, Syria has been a strategic target for many countries due to its geographic location and resources. The Turks and the French, among many others, took over the country at various points in history, which has resulted in the merging of different cultures. For example, a lot of words used in the Syrian dialect have Turkish (oda: room, pervas: frame) or French (pantalon: pants, canapé: couch) origins.
Where are the bananas, or the tissues?
Before the year 2000, Syria had a closed economy. No imports were allowed in the country, which made many products unattainable and expensive, if found. In order for Syrians to obtain basic commodities such as disposable diapers, tissues, cereal, or even chocolate, it was necessary to travel to other countries. Bananas were considered one of the fanciest treats because they were so expensive.
Now that’s old!
While historians are not completely certain, two Syrian cities – Damascus and Aleppo – are listed among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Evidence of settlement dates to 6,000-9,000 B.C.!
Where is the rest of the sand?
While many stereotypes about the Middle East paint the region as a big yellow desert filled with camels and tents, Syria does not fit this description. In fact, Mount Hermon is one of the natural borders between Syria and Lebanon. In Arabic, it’s called “The Old Man Mountain” because it is always white due to year-round snow. Forests, valleys, and hills are also all part of the Syrian landscape.
To cover your head…or not.
We often associate the image of headscarves everywhere with many Middle Eastern countries. This is another way in which Syria stands out. In cities like Damascus, Aleppo, Lattakia, and Tartous, not wearing a headscarf is quite common and socially acceptable.