Socializing and eating are the main forms of relaxation, especially in rural areas. Syrians love to talk. Socializing may involve the whole family, or gatherings of men and women separately. Men enjoy going out to coffeehouses to talk, drink tea or Turkish coffee, and smoke a “hubble-bubble” or water pipe. Sometimes they play board games, cards or chess. On Thursday night, the beginning of the weekend in Syria, young men gather on the streets to talk or drive around in their cars.

Leisure time for women most often involves talking with other women or family members. Women usually gather to socialize in someone’s home. For many families, mealtimes are important social events. Festive meals may last several hours as family members and friends chat and enjoy food and coffee. Hammams, or bathhouses, are gathering places for middle-aged and older Syrian men. Most are found in the older parts of cities, and many date from the time of the Ottoman Empire.

During the good weather, some Syrians drive to mountain resorts for the day. Others enjoy leisurely walks. Syrians usually go for walks in groups, wearing their best clothes. On mild evenings, parks in the city are full. In the summer, ice cream shops are very popular. 

Soccer is the most popular sport in Syria. Children often play the game in the streets. Syria has national soccer and basketball teams. Men attend games at a stadium and they are shown on television for a few hours a week. Recently, women have been allowed to participate in some sports and today more Syrian women are playing sports and taking part in competitions.

  Did you know?
Ghada Shouaa, a Syrian athlete, won the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 for the heptathlon. This competition for women includes seven events: hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-metre sprint, long jump, javelin throwing, and 800-metre sprint.