Date: 24 March, 2017
Annunciation Day, celebrated on March 25 each year, is a special holiday in Lebanon owing to its unique status as the only religious holiday celebrated by both Christians and Muslims. Across Christian traditions, Annunciation Day celebrates the archangel Gabriel’s meeting with Mary to inform her that she had won favor with God, that she would be blessed by the Holy Spirit and made to be with child despite her virginity, and that this child would be the Son of God, Christ Jesus. Islam also venerates Mary as a near perfect woman who was singularly blessed by God’s grace and holds Jesus as an important prophet who was raised to heaven by God.
Because of Christianity and Islam’s shared belief in the story of annunciation and how Mary came to be with Child (through God, not through man), an initiative took shape in 2010 in Lebanon to celebrate Annunciation Day as an official inter-religious national holiday between Christians and Muslims — the only such holiday in existence in the world. One Lebanon, a Lebanese NGO promoting social cohesion and unity in the country, produced a video campaign this year which features participants from all of Lebanon’s 17 Christian and Muslim sects. MECC staff members, Nina Hallak (Roman Catholic) and Antranik Manoukian (Armenian Orthodox) were two of the video’s featured participants.