- Visiting a Palestinian home may be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life! Be prepared to eat delicious food, enjoy exquisite drinks, and partake in family fun. There are just a few things to be aware of before your journey begins! Take a look below to find out what to keep in mind.
- As a guest, prepare to be spoiled! Palestinians are notorious hosts whose food will warm your soul, drinks will nourish your heart, and delightful stories will enchant your mind. Hospitality is taken very seriously and a Palestinian is likely to sacrifice their own comfort for yours, even for unexpected company. So be prepared, and don’t let them get too carried away in treating you lavishly. If you arrive late, prepare to stay up even later! It is likely that they may still offer you Turkish coffee to delight in while you catch up and recount tales.
- As a male entering a Palestinian’s home, it is very important to forewarn of your arrival so that hijab-wearing females are not taken off guard! Please, although hosting you is often viewed as a pleasure, being walked in on while not wearing a hijab is not. If you are outside the family unit, this rule is even MORE important! Just remember to politely knock and wait to be allowed into the home by your hosts.
- To continue with this theme, Palestinians value modesty. And the elder generations especially so. Your clothing is ideally more on the conservative side. If you are a woman visiting a Palestinian home, it is unlikely that you will feel pressure to cover your hair. However, be mindful that it is common for Palestinian women to wear clothing that minimally covers shoulders and thighs. You may get some looks from Sitto (grandma) if yours do not. Additionally, Palestinian men are very protective of women in the family, so just be mindful of co-ed interactions. What may seem like everyday conversation to you could come off as flirtatious advancements by Seedo (grandpa). You would not want to come off as dishonoring a family member when such lengths are taken to ensure your hospitality and comfort!
- Prayer is customary for Palestinians, both in the community and in the home alike. Many will pray multiple times per day and even wake in the early morning to do so. During times of prayer, you would be looked upon honorably by simply respecting the practice. However, keep in mind, Palestinians love to celebrate together! You may or may not hold the exact same beliefs, but most Palestinians will be absolutely delighted to help guide you through a prayer session. This mostly consists of physical movements, with the more experienced participants reciting important refrains aloud. Learn to go with the flow and relax into the moment. You might be amazed by what you experience.
- Finally, Palestinians hold a high value for an artful cleanliness. This can translate into many areas of life. Take off your shoes when you enter the home. Be sure to wash your hands and face before prayer, should you choose to participate. Clothes that are clean, artful, and modest are highly regarded. If you are a male, it may sound odd, but sit while you pee! Urinating while standing is considered very unclean and even rude. Finally, Palestinians will do everything in their power to keep you from doing so, but if you are able to help clean a few dishes, sweep the floor, or help prepare a meal, you will certainly win the hearts of your hosts.
All in all, remember that Palestinians generally love guests. Sharing food, drink, and conversation is commonplace. Trading tales and culture is often seen as a delight. The moral of the story, don’t be shy! Ask questions, participate in the daily activities, and if the whole family ends up jumping about the place singing and dancing, well… hop in!