Popular Stories and Urban Legends
  • Bterram’s priest was passing by our front door
  • Painting Hip -Hop
  • Assayde Church
  • Shukry the snake breeder (Arabic)
"Bterram’s priest was passing by our front door" (1)
The truth of this popular proverb goes back to the time of the muleteers. The Bterramians used
to load up the donkeys with grape boxes and would travel to Tripoli at night. During that period
of time, muggers would be lying in wait for all muleteers. One night, a group of Bterramian
muleteers were mugged and assaulted. The muleteers complained to the priest, who was
renowned to be fearless, so one night he accompanied the muleteers.
As expected, the muggers pounced on them with the intent to
mug and assault them, but the priest and the muleteers stood
their ground and defended themselves and they fought the
muggers. As the muggers leaped to escape, the priest yelled out
to the them: "Go tell what Bterram’s priest did to you."

The days passed and the muggers resumed the attacks on the
muleteers, but now the muggers would ask this question first :
"Are you related to Bterram’s priest?"
The days passed and the muggers resumed the attacks on the
muleteers, but now the muggers would ask this question first : "Are
you related to Bterram’s priest?"
The first muleteer: He’s my cousin (son of my mother’s sister)
Muggers: fine, go!
The second muleteer: He’s my cousin (son of my father’s brother)
Muggers : fine, go!
The third muleteer: He’s my God-brother
Muggers: fine, go!
The fourth muleteer: He’s my cousin (son of my mother’s brother)
Muggers: fine, go!
The fifth, scared and not knowing what to answer, said: Yesterday the priest passed by our
front door. The mugger told him: you too, go. This is how the muleteers were kept safe from
the muggers.
Painting Hip -Hop (1)
Once, a painter, Mr. Wehbe Salem, was painting the house of one rich man, Mr. Adib Salem.
The painter was singing while painting, following the rhythm of the popular slow song "hayhaat
ya bou el-zaalof" and stretching it even further, hence slowing down his work pace. The house
owner, who was listening to him and watching him paint, finally said: "Give me the brush, I’ll
show you how it’s done." The rich owner then took the brush and started painting the wall very
fast, while singing "ya howayda el-lowayda lak," thus urging the painter to work faster.
About Assayde Church (2)
It is said that, when the construction of the Virgin Mary's church began, the workers would come
back the next morning to resume their work, only to find everything they had built undone!
They would start again and again, with the same end result. Finally someone noticed a stone,
from those being used to construct it, at the top of a hill, quite far from where they were trying
to build. They never knew how that stone got there, or how. It was decided that they would build
where they found that stone. The hill where that stone was found is the same hill where the
Saydé stands today. Some believe that the location was chosen from up above. And what a
beautiful location it is!!

(1) Stories translated and edited ,(2) collected and edited by Sylvie I. Serhan (Montreal, Canada)
Another popular story related
to the church cemetery: A
kharrubi was planted near
Sayidi. It grew and shaded
many visitors. If a person
gets really sick then
recovers, the Bterramis say,
"Wassal lil kharrubi wa rigi' "
(He reached the kharrubi
and returned).
Painting of Assaydi church ... the artist's name?
"I smell the thyme and I walk along the roses and jasmines as i see the roads of Bterram. I
can revive the memory of "`abeeleh" fire lightening the sky of the holy transfiguration night
(Eid Al-Rab) and hear the drums and violin erupting Bterramian's feet and tuning them for a
wonderful Debkeh at the Dormition of Mary (Eid Al-Sayedh) festival. These images of Bterram
are the everlasting memories and stories that propagate through our lives into the future
generations to preserve our identity." by Dr. Rabih Jabbour
Shukry the snake
breeder (Arabic)
Story taken from Najat
Yazbeck (Dagher)'
Master's Manuscript
about the Social and
Economical Evolution of
Bterram (Lebanese
University, September
1970; manusript
shared by Marwan E.
Yazbeck, Houston, TX,
Bterram's Cultural Heritage