Thursdays of Homs
Thursday, the sixth day of the week in the Syrian calendar, has a history of tales in the city of Homs. Some of them have developed over time to social events, while others have become fests that people celebrate. The Orthodox calendar is considered as a reference for Seven Thursdays starting early February until April.
The first one is called "The Missing Thursday". It is between the end of February and early March after the Monday of the Priest; the beginning of Lent according to the Eastern calendar. It is thought that the name comes after the unstable weather conditions in this period of the year.
The second and third Thursdays are called "Thursday of Passion" and "The Crazy Thursday" and the period between them is known as ‘The Old Lady’. At this time of the year, wind hits with much noise, and its fulminating sound is heard all over the city, just like a crazy old woman, this has formed a background of many traditional sayings such as ‘February’s talk is fickle’ and ‘February! just leave, we are sick and tired of your cold and noise’.
The fourth one is called "Thursday of Cats" and it is the only one related to an existing biological phenomenon, which is cats mating.
While the first four Thursdays don’t involve ceremonies, the other three are much related to nature and accompanied with traditional celebrations.
The fifth is "Thursday of Plants". In the past, during this time of the year, Homsi young girls used to go collect herbs from nature, soak them in water and use them to wash their hair, while young men used to throw stones in the ‘well of luck’ above the castle to find out what luck would bring them this year.
Then comes "The Sweet Thursday", or "Thursday of the Dead" when people visit their deceased loved ones at cemeteries, taking with them different kinds of colorful sweets made especially for this trip. They also plant myrtle and palm branches at the graves.
The last Thursday is called ‘Thursday of Sheikhs’, which comes a week before Easter, however; people have stopped celebrating this one since the mid-19th century.
Text: Lina Az-Zakaimi
Homs, The Capital of The Joke
The Homsi jokes go back to ancient periods, it used to be produced in the form of satire. The travelers who visited the city though out the history included many of those humorous and witty tales from Homs in their books. From those travelers were Yaqut Al-Hamawi and Ibn al-Jawziwhowho described the people in Homs as “absolutely foolish or dumb”.
The common reason behind making fun of Homsi people lies behind their celebration of the Crazy Day each Wednesday. The exact origin of this occasion is not much known, it has many scenarios, maybe the most famous one is the one about how Homsis fooled The Mongols on Wednesday. They knew that Tamerlane with his army is at the gates of the city to invade it after he had destroyed Damascus and many other cities. What they did was that they wore their clothes inside out, hold their clogs over their shoulders and started banging on their metal barrels with the city gates wide open. With such a scene, the army of Tamerlane entered the gates and rushed out of the city escaping what they interpreted as its crazy cursed people. Other cities talk about this incident saying that ‘Homsis fooled Tamerlane’s army that day’
Other sources indicate that the occasion existed a long time ago and used to be celebrated as a part of the sacred Spring rituals before Christianity and Islam. On Wednesday, people used to start preparing for the Creation Day which was on Thursday. This occasion has been kept in the memory of the people of Homs.
In addition, it was said that Julia Domna, the Homsi Empress of Rome loved humor and funny tales, which used to be always part of her court sessions.
Text: Lina Az-Zakaimi
Events from the modern history of the city
- In 1897, the first women association in Homs was founded. It is called Nour Al-Afaf Women Association, which also worked on several humanitarian issues in the city.
- In 1909, there were about 10.000 spinning wheels in Homs, the thing that made it one of the top Syrian cities in textile manufacturing.
- In 1918, King Faisal entered Homs for the first time and announced the end of the Ottoman rule.
- In 1923, the first Syrian parliament was founded, including 18 PMs, 4 of them were from Homs. The parliament elected Hashim al-Atassias president of the Syrian Republic.
- In 1932, power networks were connected in Homs.
- In 1934, the houses of Homs started having access to clean drinking water.
- In 1947, the National Library was opened in Homs. It included books for all types of knowledge seekers and within 10 years, the library had more than 20.000 books in different languages.
Text: Reem Lababidi