Lebanese Lenten Dinner Reflects Religion, Maintains Tradition

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WILKES-BARRE -- It’s the first Friday of the Lenten season and for Christians that means it’s a day abstaining from meat.

Friday night Catholics of Lebanese descent came together at their church for a traditional homemade Lenten meal.

At Saint Anthony Maronite Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre, parishioners gathered and tucked into their traditional Lenten dinner.

The congregation is of Lebanese descent and this meat-less was food from their mother country, including m`jundra, a lentil, rice and onion dish, fatoush, a mixed salad.

But the favored plate was the macroom b`toom, homemade pasta with a white sauce, with garlic, lots of garlic.

“Unbelievable. it was so good and it`s something we only get a couple times a year and it was delicious, delicious,” said Bill Rod of Trucksville “Lot of garlic, like nobody will talk to me for the rest of the night.”

The dinner is sponsored by the Knights of Lebanon, a men’s civic club, associated with the faith.

Members said Lebanon has a large Christian population that follows the Vatican`s doctrine.

“There`s a lot of Christians in the Middle East,” said Ferris Webby with the Knights. “Half of Lebanon is Christian, but we`re Maronite Christian. That`s where our religion comes from, we`re based in Lebanon and we follow the Maronite rite, which is under the Pope.”

Many at the dinner said they enjoy coming to this dinner every year, as a way to keep their faith.

It`s also a way to maintain traditions of the mother country and pass those on to their children.

“We have two children and we try to encourage the different ethnic background that we have and so it keeps growing to the next generation as well,” said Christina Nordmark of Bear Creek.

While this is the season of sacrifice and abstinence, folks here can`t help indulging in good food, still, they do have their Lenten goals.

“I didn`t really give up anything but I`m going to go to the gym every day,” said Rod. “So I guess I`m giving up pounds, that`s good, I like that.”

The dinner costs seven dollars for adults, four for children.

The Knights of Lebanon say proceeds go to a scholarship to help area college students buy books and school supplies.