The festive season is well under-way and the hustle bustle of Birmingham screams Christmas shopping, Christmas markets and annual meet-ups with friends. There are beautiful lights on every city centre street and people are getting into festive spirits.

We all know the Christmas protocol in England – decorations, Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, alcohol, lots of meals out, big family gatherings, then the big day. Gift-giving, Santa, turkey, Gavin & Stacey and every other Christmas special on TV…Therefore we thought we’d talk a little about how Christmas is Celebrated in Damascus, the home to our delicious food.

Context

Whilst much of the population in Syria’s capital are Muslim, there is also several Christian Minorities – who celebrate Christmas traditions annually. However, it’s the whole community that joins in on the fun of Christmas! It is a festival that is celebrated globally, and Damascus is no exception. In the heart of this busy city, the festival of Christmas is celebrated on a grand scale. It is a time where everyone comes together to celebrate, and many of the traditions resemble western norms. Particularly in recent years, where bad news seems to be a far too common occurrence, Christmas has been a time for people to show nothing but love and good will, and a time for hope to surround the city.

FESTIVE TRADITIONS:

Christmas Lights

Jalal Ibrahim Photography – Twitter

The streets are decorated in festive lights. Some people dress in Santa hats and gather together in the central neighbourhood of Qassaa, to celebrate and admire the local Christmas Tree. Everybody from the community comes along to enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas and takes part in the celebrations.

The biggest tree in Damascas that stands over 30 metres tall lights up in Abbasiya Square. Festivities are organised to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, and people line the streets to perform songs and enjoy great company.

Carol Singing

Action Project – Twitter

In the lead up to Christmas, and particularly on Christmas Eve, people peacefully partake in carol singing. Friends come together with candles and walk about the town, spreading the beautiful sound of festive hymns. Elders reminisce on carolling memories and youngers now get to see the beauty of it.

Musical bands also fill local towns with harmony and sound, spreading peace and joy throughout.

Christmas Eve Mass

Like in the West, it’s annual tradition to attend a Christmas Eve mass. On this day, the whole community comes together to celebrate the occasion. Everyone is welcomed into the church, and many come to say a prayer and support the traditions of Christmas.

Gifts

Louai Beshra

As Christmas nears, people shop for gifts, candy and decorations at local marketplaces. Shopping local not only supports other families at Christmas time, but also brings people together. The people of Damascus appreciate great artistry and craftsmanship. These gifts are treasured and valued immensely, and the true meaning of a gift is beautifully powerful!

Like in the West, children believe their presents are delivered by Santa, who fly’s all over the world to visit every child!

Food

The Christmas dinner is of course incredibly important. A feast brings people together and makes us thankful for enjoying the luxury of beautiful flavours. Locals prepare delicious chicken, lamb and dessert dishes. Some famous dishes served on Christmas day include Baba Ghannouj, Hummus, Baklava and Mezze Platters – all of which can be found on our menu full of delicious Middle-Eastern cuisine.

For a feast like Christmas day in Damascus, why not gather some friends and kick festivities off at your local Damascena branch? Enjoy your well needed Christmas catch-up with us!

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The way Christmas is celebrated in Damascus, shows us that more than anything, that Christmas is a time for people to come together. No matter what race or religion – people celebrate and honour this tradition together. It is a time for giving – but a time for giving love, care and meaningful gestures first and foremost. Christmas in Damascus is truly beautiful!

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