Um Adnan (Sohmata)


Q: What’s your name?


A: My name is (Q)atef Asa’d Nimer.


Q: How old are you?


A: 70 years old.


Q: Where are you from?


A: I’m from Sohmata.


Q: Tell us what do you remember about Palestine?

A: When we were young we used to play houses, and hide and seek.


Q: What did you wear when you were young?


A: Dresses and pants.


Q: Did you all dress the same?


A: Older people [women] wore shentian, young girls wore pants with scalloped edges. That was it. We used to sew clothes too


Q: Did you pay for the sewing?


A: Yes of course we paid.


Q: As for your daily life, what did you do?


A: We were fellahin. The men went to work in the fields and sow wheat, barley and lentils and kursana [1] Then they would go and pick the okraand green beans. We also used to grow tobacco, and they’d go [to harvest] olives during its season.


Q: What were the special events in your village like?


A: Weddings were frequent, also engagements, and feasts.


Q: When they went to get engaged to a girl, did the bridegroom see her?


A: No, no it was forbidden, he wouldn’t see her until they married (yom al-dakhleh).  When the groom visited his fiancee’s parents, she would leave.


Q: Okay, what was the wedding like?


A: The preparations for the wedding would begin seven days before.  Seven days before the wedding they wouldroll the sha’riya, and they put the rice on the mats the day of the wedding.


Q: How would they cheer for the groom?


A: They used to take the groom to the threshing floor, and sing to him, and then tour him through the village.


Q: Do you remember any of these songs?


A: No, wallahi.


Q: Okay. What about the bride?


A: First of all the bride would be invited by one of her relatives. Then they put her on a horse and bring her to the family of the groom.


Q: Did they do the same for the groom?


A: Yes, he would come riding a horse with incense all around him. The bride would have her face covered, so that when the groom arrives he would remove the veil and uncover her face, and then sit beside her.


Q: Did you give gifts to the bride and groom?


A: Of course. They would give them gold or money, each person according to his means. They would say: “Khalaf allah a’layk ya flan wa had na(q)out minnak lil a’rees wa a’bal ili a’ndku” [God give you blessings oh so-and-so, and he took naqut from you, and may the same happen to you]


Q: Did you make henna for the bride?


A: Yes. During the night of henna they would bring a big tray of henna and put candles on the tray and dance on it. And when they had finished putting henna on the bride, each one of the girls would take some home to put it on themselves.


Q: Did you make sweets at the feasts?


A: Yes we used to make ka’k, especially yellow ka’k. The young girls would go to play on the swings under the olive trees. There was a big olive tree in the village square where there were swings.


Q: How was Ramadan?


A: It was as usual, not like now though, now there’s a msahar [2] — in our days there weren’t any. The sheikh would recite in the mosque and that was it.


Q: Did people go on the hajj?


A: No, not many few people used to go.


Q: How would they go?


A: On camels.


Q: Did they make decorations for the pilgrims?


A: No, there weren’t decorations or anything.


Q: Did anyone get sick in your days?


A: No, sicknesses and deaths were few.


Q: But if someone did get sick, how would they treat him?


A: We would go to Tarshiha. We didn’t have a doctor in our village. During the fig season children would get poisoned.


Q: When a woman gave birth did you go to congratulate her?


A: They used to cook an omelette for the delivery, and would give her gold, earrings, little palms,[3] clothes for the boy or the girl, each person according to his means.


Q: Did you make a celebration for the circumcision of boys?


A: No, no celebration or anything.


Q: Were you friends with people of neighboring villages?


A: Yes, mostly we would go to Tarshiha, they were friends with us.


Q: Were there Muslims and Christians in your village?


A: Yes, there were.


Q: Were you friends with them?


A: Yes they were very good.


Q: Were there any poor people in your village?


A: No there weren’t any. The rich would help the poor. For example, someone who had land would help the one who didn’t have land. He would plant it, and give a third [of the crop] to the one who was poor.


Q: Did you women sit together?


A: Yes, we had a big mulberry tree in our quarter, and each day at sunset we would sit together and share stories.


Q: What stories?


A: I don’t remember. But each woman would tell things that were happening with her.


Q: You left Palestine because of the war?


A: Yes. When there was war, Israel attacked us while we were sitting under the big mulberry tree. My mother was killed and I was wounded. After that we rode in a bus and came to Beirut, Lebanon. I was treated in hospital, then we left for Ba’lbek. Then I got married and came here to Bourj with my husband, and stayed here.




[1] Kursana, a grain for animal food.

[2] A musahar is someone who wakes people up before suhoor.

[3] Silver trinkets in the shape of a hand worn on necklaces or bracelets to keep away the evil eye.


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