In this article I would like to provide a little piece of the mosaic of everyday life in Palestine by analyzing some of the places and types of free time in the area between Nablus and Jerusalem in the period between the end of the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the British Mandate. Through autobiographical Palestinian literature - memoirs, diaries, autobiographies - and some reports such as the History of Nablus by Ihsan al-Nimr and the Encyclopedia of Palestinian folklore by Nimr Sirhan, I carry out a survey of the forms of entertainment and games common among adults and children by following the many threads that bind individuals to their environment and society. As opposed to labor, free time has always been a more or less extensive part of the day, depending on time, place, gender, social standing and profession. The notion of free time, themed by modern historiography with reference to society in the industrialized West, can also be employed in the analysis of other contexts, such as the one in question. This perspective makes it possible to look at Palestinian society by focusing, relatively frankly, on areas in which men and women of varying ages and backgrounds produce traditional forms of sociability and create new ones, reworking elements of their own traditions, populace and culture. In particular, the paper considers both the games and pastimes in vogue among the men of the so-called middle class who, first in salons and then in cafes, entertain themselves with tales of Hakawati, with board games and cards and forms of recreation practiced by women (especially those belonging to the lower classes) in the private sphere of the home and in the little free time left to them by their housework - the art of storytelling based on the reworking of fairy tales and other games during the nights of Ramadan. Finally, the study provides an overview of the most popular leisure activities among children, for both boys and girls the magic box and street games and for boys of the higher classes equestrianism and songs and for those of lower classes road games, etc. The reconstruction of these "fragments of life," through the "history" of the memoirs, provides a picture of Palestine at that time which is in many respects unusual and not at all static. There are already clearly perceptible elements of discontinuity, change and modernity which penetrate everyday life under the influence of factors which are internal as well as external.

Time off: entertainment, games and pass times in Palestine between the end of the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate

BALDAZZI, CRISTIANA
2015

Abstract

In this article I would like to provide a little piece of the mosaic of everyday life in Palestine by analyzing some of the places and types of free time in the area between Nablus and Jerusalem in the period between the end of the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the British Mandate. Through autobiographical Palestinian literature - memoirs, diaries, autobiographies - and some reports such as the History of Nablus by Ihsan al-Nimr and the Encyclopedia of Palestinian folklore by Nimr Sirhan, I carry out a survey of the forms of entertainment and games common among adults and children by following the many threads that bind individuals to their environment and society. As opposed to labor, free time has always been a more or less extensive part of the day, depending on time, place, gender, social standing and profession. The notion of free time, themed by modern historiography with reference to society in the industrialized West, can also be employed in the analysis of other contexts, such as the one in question. This perspective makes it possible to look at Palestinian society by focusing, relatively frankly, on areas in which men and women of varying ages and backgrounds produce traditional forms of sociability and create new ones, reworking elements of their own traditions, populace and culture. In particular, the paper considers both the games and pastimes in vogue among the men of the so-called middle class who, first in salons and then in cafes, entertain themselves with tales of Hakawati, with board games and cards and forms of recreation practiced by women (especially those belonging to the lower classes) in the private sphere of the home and in the little free time left to them by their housework - the art of storytelling based on the reworking of fairy tales and other games during the nights of Ramadan. Finally, the study provides an overview of the most popular leisure activities among children, for both boys and girls the magic box and street games and for boys of the higher classes equestrianism and songs and for those of lower classes road games, etc. The reconstruction of these "fragments of life," through the "history" of the memoirs, provides a picture of Palestine at that time which is in many respects unusual and not at all static. There are already clearly perceptible elements of discontinuity, change and modernity which penetrate everyday life under the influence of factors which are internal as well as external.
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