- Niha is a Syriac name meaning calm, patient, place or rest, a dreamer
- Other villages with the same name in Lebanon: Niha– Zahle/Bekaa; Niha – Chouf; Niha – Tyre.
- Niha has the same name as other villages (which is uncommon) due to people moving from one area to another, carrying the name of the original village (possible Niha Zahle)
- Niha is in the region of Batroun, one of 24 regions, and is referred to as Niha – Batroun
- There are about 1300 cities and villages in Lebanon in an area of 10,425 square meters with a coast length of about 185 Km. and inland depth from coast of 56 Km. Current population of 4 million people;
Population and Religion
- Approximately 5000 descendant persons inside and outside Lebanon and 1000 registered voters within Lebanon.
- The population of Niha is all Maronite Catholic by religion.
- There are 65 houses currently in use in the village.and is considered relatively small in population compared to other villages in Lebanon.
- Niha is in the Lebanese electorate of Batroun in the North Lebanon Region. Current serving member of Parliament for the electorate is The Honourable Sheik Boutros Harb.
- Local Municipal Council: there is no council. Negotiations are currently under way to form a local elected council for the village.once elected government annual funding is allocated to maintain and upgrade the village
- By tradition each village in Lebanon has a locally elected Muhktar “mayor” who keeps village records on behalf of the Government; witnesses land transfers and presides over disputes. The current Muhktar is Shallita “Mutran” Tannous (son of Khazin Tannous, deceased).
- Feast day of St George (Mar Jiris) on the 23rd of April.
- Feast day of Our Lady Mary (Saydet) on 15th of August when many people return to the village to celebrate.
- The rock cut cliff chapel, our Lady of the Fortress Church (Saydet Al-Qalaa) becomes a religious refuge during the month of August for the Saydet feast.
Churches and Grotto Chapel
- Saydit Nouh is the main Church of the village and was built circa 1880 by Father Gabriel Karam utilising some of the sandstone from a previously ruined Church on the same site.
- St Georges’s Church and Sculpture is the oldest standing church in Niha. It’s building date is unknown but most likely in the 18th -19th century.The story of Saint George sculpture: when Nohra Salim left Lebanon in 1935 to go to Cuba (he stopped in Guadeloupe on his way), he pledged to Saint George that he would give 1% of all the money he would ever make during his time abroad. Nohra never became rich but he was a devoted and religious man and he fulfilled his promises by commissioning a sculpture representing Saint George which cost him 1% of the money he made between 1935 and 1952. The sculpture was started in 1952 and finished in 1953. Nohra travelled 3 times to Lebanon to see the progress of the work 1952/53 and 54. In 1954, he was too sick to travel and stayed in Lebanon. He died in Niha in 1955.
- Saydit al-Qalaa is a unique grotto chapel. The chapel is built in a cave on a cliff face part natural and partly sculpted by hand. A water well is located at the entrance and is naturally sourced from the side of this rock mountain. Many legends and stories about the well have passed down the generations among Niha’s inhabitants. The date of establishment is unknown but legend and unverified historical accounts state that in this grotto chapel the daughter of an ancient Roman King led the townspeople of Hardin into Christianity.
to be the first his was the first village in Mount Lebanon that converted to Christianity.
Emigration from Niha
- Late 19th century to the Americas.
- 1919 to Guadeloupe (French West Indies in the Caribbean Islands) then Cuba from 1925 and then to Brazil, Venezuela, USA, Canada and France
- Australia: from 1949 onwards.
- The largest concentration of emigrants from Niha live in Sydney (Australia) with others located in Pointe-a -Pitre in Guadeloupe (French West Indies ); Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada); Ohio, Pennsylvania & Miami (USA); Paris (France) Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Brazil and Cuba
- Most people who emigrated had the idea that they would make their fortune and return. Some did return to Niha, but many settled in their adopted countries once they married and began to raise their families. Like many immigrants, they came to the adopted countries for economic reasons and for a better life.
- On arrival to the new country the comradeship and support was strong from relatives and friends from Niha, they would help establish new-comers with accommodation and assistance in finding employment in factories, on the railroad or as hawkers.
- With many new arrivals of Lebanese families they often gathered for weekend picnics to exchange news and share Lebanese foods
- The Guadeloupe relatives after saving incomes began opening retail rag trade stores, with the second generation moving to France for tertiary education or work. Many in Australian started in the building industry and became builders and trades persons. Many are also professionals in their chosen fields.
- Currently some Guadeloupe, Australian and North American Niha descendants are resettling in Lebanon and opening businesses; some spending several months in the village in summer holidaying and building or restoring family homes.
- The Niha relatives living in Australia still retain traditional Lebanese cultural values. They maintain social contact with each other at weddings; paying their respect at funerals and of course paying social visits such as playing cards or during the festive seasons.
- In the past it was not uncommon for Niha descents outside of Lebanon to return and marry someone from Niha or from an adjoining village.
Adjoining Sister Villages of Niha
To understand and gain further history of Niha, see our adjoining sister villages : Hardin, Hadath-al-Jibbih, Kfour al Arbi, Tannourine, Marzaat Bani Saab, Qnat, Kfarhilda.
Traditional Culture and Traditions
- Lebanon’s diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has contributed to the country’s festivals, musical styles and literature as well as cuisine. Despite the ethnic, linguistic, religious and denominational diversity of the Lebanese, they “share an almost common culture”.
- The culture is a product of various civilizations and cultures that have passed through the country over thousands of years
- Most people speak and write three languages including Arabic, French,and English. There are various accents in Lebanon.
- The Lebanese are entrepreneurial and are proud of their culture, heritage, homeland and adopted country.
- Lebanese people take social politeness seriously. When one meets a stranger, acquaintance, or friend, it is important to exchange greetings, to inquire about the person’s health, family and in general to make polite small talk before getting down to any specific business.
- Titles such as “doctor” or “professor” and ones professional occupation are used consistently where appropriate or in a introduction. In Arabic, these titles are commonly used with a person’s first name.
- Hospitality is a prized tradition in Lebanon. People feel honored to have guests in their homes, and they also enjoy visiting others.
- Hosts usually serve tea or coffee to guests. Etiquette requires that such an offer be accepted. If invited to a meal, guests might bring flowers, a plant, a special dessert, or something for the home.
- highlight of most parents lives is the marriage of their children, the week leading up to the wedding day is a festive occasion including pre parties with traditional dancing or dabke and music including the drums or tabil .
- The Lebanese are determined to put past hatre and disputes behind them and move forward in the reconstruction process,forgiving is part of the culture.
- In old traditions sometimes carried through today, a family with single daughters often find requests from relatives and friends to visit with a friend for a coffee,this usually refers to introduction of a potential groom to the family. The daughter then decides her next move,there is no arranged marriages.
- Marriage between Lebanese Christians and Moslem’s is uncommon due to different faith,but at a social and business level relationships are highly praised with a common respect for each other’s faith.
- When there is a death in the family, the custom is that the closest family member to the deceased (no matter what country) open there house for visits by relatives or friends to pay respects,this occurs before the funeral.On the day of the funeral it is tradition to again attend the Church service for the deceased.
- On the birth of a new child in the family,it is tradition relatives and friends visit the family once the mother and child return from hospital and to bring a small gift celebrating this special occasion.
- The extended family often sees grandparents,Uncles and Aunts participate and comment in the upbringing of nephews and nieces.
- unspoken rules of hospitality require the host to make guests feel completely welcome.
- The family network members are expected to share with less prosperous relatives including expatriates, usually with monetary assistance.
- Lebanese families are close-knit and strong, it was previously common for more than one generation to live in the same house or in the adjoining house.
- The Lebanese lifestyle is relaxed, but by no means lazy. Opinions are strongly held and fiercely defended with vigorous gestures in heated discussions. At the market, the same vigor is used to haggle prices, something the average Lebanese is quite good at doing.From their Phoenician ancestors they have inherited an aptitude for business dealings and a fondness for travel.
- The average Lebanese is very individualistic. Lebanese people have a great sense of dignity and humor. They are always willing to be of assistance and are highly hospitable.
- Close family relationships, loyalty to family and friends, and honor are extremely important. Fathers and elder males are the heads of the family. Shame is avoided at all costs and insults are taken very seriously