Khamies El Sakra -“Drunken Thursday”, Maronite Tradition Elias Bejjani/February 16/2023
Today, Thursday, February 16/2023, the Catholic Maronites in Lebanon celebrate a tradition, and not a religious event. A tradition they call “Drunken Thursday,” which is the day that falls before the beginning of the forty-day fasting ritual – the Lent, that begins on the Ash Monday.
In past years, Maronite families, particularly in the mountainous areas, used to gather on this day at the dinner table to pray, meditate, and thank God for His blessings and gifts. They used to gather to thank the Lord for His gifts, and to supplicate for His blessings and approval before they start the Lent fasting, and before the start of austerity and prayers in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and his ascension to heaven.
The “Drunken Thursday”, is neither a Maronite, nor a Christian holiday. Rather, it is a tradition that many of our people no longer celebrate, even if they remember it.
Historically, “drunken Thursday” is an old tradition, and we do not know in any era of time it existed, and who created it, but it was certainly practiced in our mountains every year on the Thursday before the beginning of the forty-days fasting ritual – The Lent. There is very little information written about it in the books of Lebanese history and the Maronite church records (synaxarium).
Some historical records say that the Maronites used to drink wine and Arak (Ozo) on this day, as a token of joy and partnership between parents and families during their blessed gatherings around the dinner table, as a replicate, concept and symbolism of the secret and last supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples, in a religious bid to give thanks to God for His blessings and gifts that He bestowed upon them.