As we slowly approach the 22 of November, also known as our beloved nation’s birthday, our inner Lebanese glow seems to be shining a little brighter. But in light of the recent unfortunate events, it seems to be also shining a little bolder too. With that in mind, we thought it would be extremely fitting (and patriotic) to dedicate this week’s blog post to our nation’s flag – the red, white and green that we hold up so dearly. We all know that the Lebanese flag is made up of three elements: the red stripes that represent Lebanese blood shed to preserve the country against the successive invaders, the white middle that represents snow as a symbol of purity and peace, and lastly, the object that brings the flag together – a cedar tree, representing hope, freedom and memory. With that being common knowledge we made it our job to dig deeper into our roots (literally) and find out more about the cedar tree that represents us as a country.
The cedar tree was first found in Lebanon, on the Mount Lebanon range at Sannine Barouk, and the eastern and western mountain chains. At the time this area was completely filled with only cedar trees, which is why it’s so significant today. All around the world the cedar tree represents huge monuments of religion, poetry and history but to us it means a whole lot more (today and back in the day). It’s believed that a long time ago, the cedar tree gave off vegetative power that enabled the people at the time to live eternally, and manifest signs of wisdom and intelligence. But it wasn’t only our ancestors that obsessed over the “powers” and uses of cedar wood. It’s said that Egyptians used to mummify their dead with cedar and thus calling it the “life of death.” Throughout time cedar sawdust has been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs as well. It’s said that Pharaohs and Pagans had the tradition of burning the cedar coming from Lebanon with their offerings in their ceremonies.
If you still aren’t convinced about the superiority of our almighty cedar, get a load of this. According to the legend, Lebanon cedar was used to build the ships for Alexander the Great and as the foundation of construction for the temple of King Solomon in Jerusalem. Can you imagine – a palace built solely on the tree that represents your country? Enough about royalty, let’s talk about influential writers for a bit. Many writers, too many to count, have been highly impressed with the majestic aspects of the cedar tree and have referred to them metaphorically in their writings to indicate qualities such as strength, beauty endurance, majesty, and noblesse. The mighty cedar also featured in one of the oldest books ever written – The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to at least four thousand years ago! Check out the epic line in the book:
“On the Mountain the cedars uplift their abundance. Their shadow is beautiful, is all delight. Thistles hide under them, and the dark prick-thorn, sweet smelling flowers hide under the cedars … In all directions, ten thousand miles stretches that forest …”
The cedar in the middle of our flag defines all the amazing qualities we as a country have: strength, boldness, hope and freedom. We need to constantly remember in our hearts the struggles we’ve faced that got us where we are today, and to stick together through good and bad times. If there is one quote that defines our beloved Lebanon it’s this by Gibran Khalil Gibran: “My love is as the cedars, beloved, and the elements shall not conquer it.”