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Saint Awtel's Day

Although it is a matter of conjecture [and subject to correction] it is thought that the reason why the Saint is celebrated on a different date in the village of Kfarsghab, 27th August, as oppose to Saint Autel’s feast day 3rd June (The Saints Calendar in the Maronite Church), is that traditionally the village population was split on the 3rd June between the winter village of Morh Kfarsghab and the summer village of Kfarsghab.

By the 27th August the whole village was together. It could be that the date was chosen to replace a pagan sacrificial festival on that day. It was a common practice for the Christian Church to take over pagan festivals.

The traditional Saint’s day meal, "the Hrissé", is prepared after the slaughter of a goat or sheep, by those who vowed to prepare the meal after their prayers to the Saint were answered. The meal is handed out to the congregation after Mass on the day.

Here's what says about this tradition Youakim Moubarac in Pentalogie Antiochienne / Domaine Maronite - Tome II - Volume I - year 1984 - Editor Cenacle Libanais - Beirut - Lebanon:
" ... Let us note ... the splitting in two of certain saint days: one during springtime and another after August 15th, this latter feast is traditionnally dedicated to serve the hrissé, once the animals devoted to this effect were fattened after getting down from the "Alpages" [high mountain pastures]. It is the case in Kfarsghâb for the celebration of Mart Moura; on May 3rd and September 25th. It is also the case of Mar Awtel celebrated on June 2nd and, for the hrissé, on August 27th ..."

The village celebrations attract many visitors who enjoy the festival which includes a display of traditional Lebanese folk lore dance "dabke".

(compiled from the Maronite Sinksar and with some modest help from Youssef by Graham B. for )
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