Hanna H. Farha was born on March 29, 1938 in Marjeyoun, a town in Southern Lebanon. He grew up there alongside his seven brothers and sisters, and went on to graduate from Marjayoun National College in 1958.

Hanna would serve the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the U.S. State Department between 1959 and 1976, and worked in Beirut, as well as in Washington D.C. and Tunisia.

During his time with the FSI, he taught Arabic to dozens of prominent ambassadors and Assistant Secretaries of State, such as Richard William Murphy, Morris Draper (Middle East Envoy tasked with leading the Lebanese-Israeli talks of 1983), Fred Galanto, David Newton, Dr. Nathaniel Howell, Kenton Keith, George Lane, Charles Widney, Robert Polletro, and the distinguished Edward Djerejian, who served in eight U.S. administrations (from Presidents John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton).

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June: The Month of Warmth and Joy

March 15, 2009

June is the month of joy and pleasure—it begins in spring and ends in summer.

In Arabic, June is hazeeran, derived from the Syriac word hazeeroun. June has 30 days and the light increases until the 22nd- when the sun enters the sign of the zodiac Cancer, and welcomes the heat as its best friend. After the 22nd, the light begins to decrease gradually.

Most welcome the heat, which reinvigorates and signals the coming harvest. But it surprises others, who say June’s heat changes milk to curdled yogurt.

Even water stored in wells, as well as crops are affected, the villagers say: “In June, the water boils in the wells.”

Barley and few kinds of wheat mature at this time and a variety of vegetables and late spring fruits such as apricots, mulberries, plums, cherries and all kinds of lemons all come to fruition. Producers traditionally give excess harvest to their friends and neighbors.

The old kind of Lebanese apples are in plentiful supply (but not the California Golden and Staken, which were recently imported and are not ready before the beginning of September.)

In June, many birds settle in Lebanon, among them the mountain partridge (quil) start to hatch, Breeders trap their young and raise them in cages, teaching them a special language known as the Yaqloum. Hunters take the birds along to sing its strange language to entice other partridges out, and expose them to the hunters’ guns.

Partridge hunting is an ancient Lebanese tradition. Prince Bachir Achihabi was a pioneer. During his rule of Lebanon, he used to allow or prohibit partridge hunting depending on its abundance or scarcity.

Cats are also very busy, breeding for the second time- but the quality of their offspring is not as good as that of the first season. It is said that a June cat is not a good hunter.

The month means different things to different people. Peasants, farmers, landowners and debtors all used to wait for this month to settle old debts.

So, remember when you turn over the pages of your calender- there’s more to June than just 30 days.

From the book Ahadith Ash Shouhour by Fuad Afram Al Bustani, adapted and translated to English by Hanna H Farha.


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