The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches, and was a general celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ It included the commemoration of: his birth; the visit of the Magi or Majous as we call them in Arabic, ("Wise Men", as . were Persian priests) to Bethlehem; all of Jesus' childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee.(Turning the Water to Wine - Jesus first Miracle in Cana - Lebanon) It seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the primary event being commemorated.
Some Eastern Churches in Eastern Europe and the Armenian Orthodox continues to celebrate January 6 as the only commemoration of the Nativity.
On this Holy Day, the Earth and everything on this earth is blessed... specially the water. On the 1200 am hour Jesus visit the earth and bless his creation. I witnessed this blessing one year, long time ago, when I was still living in Beirut, I went to attend the Midnight Mass with my younger brother Simon , in the Middle of the ceremony, the Church Bells started ringing loudly and strongly, the women were rejoicing by making voices of celebration (lililililililiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii) every one ran outside to see what was going on from the priest, the elderly people were running infront of us, the whole parish were outside, to our surprise we saw the branches of two big trees in the yard of the church are all the way down to the ground , I am talking big thick branches, the priest started praying and the Mass was continued outside in front of the two big tree. I will never forget this glory date and the heavenly feeling every time I remember it.
Two years ago I made a starter dough, and till this date I am still using the same starter, building and adding more flour and water...I use my starter in all my pastries and bread....
Lebanese Sweet Pancakes - Katayef stuffed with walnuts and Ashta
4 cups of all purpose flour sifted
1 cup semolina
2 tsp of yeast
4 cups of warm water + 1 cup of warm milk or you can go 50/50
1 tsp ground mahleb (Middle Eastern Stores)
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
add the yeast and sugar to the warm , cover and let it rise in a warm place.
Add the milk to the flour with the salt and mahleb stir to combine. When the yeast rise
add it to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon , the mixture has to be liquidy, and not
thick other wise it will not rise and bubble when you cook them, leave to rise for one hour.
Using a tefal or non stick pan, or pancake pan add 2 tbsp or so of the mixture in the medium hot pan and let it bubble and dry, if the pan is too hot the pancakes bottom will burn before they cook, the heat has to be medium low, try with one and see ( # 4) keep stirring , if you want you can use either an ice cream scoop of the 1/4 size measuring cup.... spread a clean towel on a tray and cool your pancakes.
2 cups of chopped walnuts
3tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of rose water + 1 tsp of orange blossom water
mix well and stuff your pancakes
stuff the cooled pancakes, and try to close the ends to obtain half a moon, if the pancakes are too dry to close, dip your finger with some water and lightly run it around one edge of the pancakes.
1 cup of fresh Ricotta Cheese
1 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese
or 2 cups of sweet Akkawi cheese cut into cubes
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp each of rose water and orange blossom
mix well and stuff your pancakes, bake in preheated oven till brown. Drizzle with cool syrup.
Clotted Cream Stuffing (refer to my recipe with Ousmaliyeah)
Cooking: using canola or vegetable oil fry your pancakes ,let them drain on paper towel then dip them in a cool syrup
Syrup: 3 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water cook to thicken add juice of half a lemon stir and when it thickens after 10-12 minutes, take it off the heat, add one tbsp each of rose water and orange blossom
option: you can make you katayef smaller the size of a golf ball, and stuff them with Ashta -Clotted Cream , leaving the katayef half open to show your stuffing, and on top you sprinkle chopped pistachios and a tsp of rose flower jam