Solidarites International

During her work, Lena tried to “find normality in the life of a refugee: wondering about family, work, teenagers, children, traditions…”. In the last part of her graphic novel, based on each family’s stories, Lena talks about wedding traditions that have carried on from Syria all the way to the informal settlements in Lebanon. Because marriage is the ultimate celebration of life and love.
And even if life shows no mercy, it’s out of the question that a wedding celebration be cut-back.

“Everyone comes together and brings something,” explains Salam, the bride from the Samouniyeh settlement. “A hairdresser and make-up artist is called in, you rent a dress, everyone cooks their speciality, we dance and sing.” A true party in the middle of tents.
Traditions have been preserved. “My dress was covered in money. Everyone who came attached a small banknote to it. The total amount is supposed to be for buying a house together,” Salam continues. “Of course, instead of a house, my husband offered me a tent, but as long as we’re together, it doesn’t matter,” she adds.

In another family, they talk about the bride’s preparations: sugar waxing “the whole body, even your arms” explains one woman, laughing. Then the henna is prepared for the hands and feet. Then they dress the bride, do her hair and make-up, before having a party just for the women, while the men and the groom party amongst themselves. They share recipes for lamb stew and cakes and pastries, and the bread dough tradition is explained… The husband throws the dough against the door to the house; if it sticks, the marriage will be a happy one.

And if the whole family isn’t able to attend the wedding – notably because of the restriction of free movement for Syrian refugees in Lebanon – the same applies to births and other events, “there’s always Whatsapp and photos”, concludes Salam.