In Eastern Orthodox faith, Christmas is celebrated two weeks later than in most other Christian faiths. And, of course, although Muslims in the Levant do not celebrate this holiday, they participate in the Santa Claus tradition so their children do not fee left out. In fact, in Damascus, each neighborhood hires someone to play Santa Claus, who then stops at each home, Muslim or Christian, and leaves gift for the neighborhood's children.When visiting friends in the Levant, one finds tables loaded with sweets, ready for guests. At the end of the Christmas visit, a small glass of some sort of liqueur is served, along with Jordan almonds.Fig and Date Loafserves 101/2 pound dried figs1/2 pound pitted dates1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped2 tablespoons honey1/2 teaspoon ground cloves1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom2 tablespoons powdered sugar1 tablespoons ground pistachios-In a food processor, combine the figs with the dates and walnuts. Puree into a coarse mixture.-Add the honey, cloves and cardamom and process into a smooth mixture-Spoon the mixture onto wax paper adn shape into 3-inch thick cylinders.-Chill for a couple of hours.When ready to serve:-Remove the wax paper, cut into 1-inch thick slices, then sprinkle with the powdered sugar and the pistachios.