DAMASCUS: For seven years, the festive mood of the holiday season in Syria’s capital Damascus largely disappeared, and the celebrations were confined to prayers for the country to regain its old renowned peace.
In the past years of war, Christmas decorations were missed as the streets of Bab Touma and Qassa neighborhoods in Damascus were a target of daily mortar shells by the rebels in the nearby Eastern Ghouta countryside.
For those who would celebrate, the holiday was an occasion to remember the neighbors and the loved ones who had gone in the spiraling war in the country and the rain of mortar shells.
This year, however, people were celebrating their hearts out and the festive mood of the Christmas, and the New Year atmosphere is felt even before the actual occasion comes, which would be the first holiday season to come to
Damascus in seven years after the last rebel left Eastern Ghouta in May.
In a street in Qassa, a predominantly Christian neighborhood in Damascus, people from different parts of the capital with different faiths came to enjoy a new Christmas tree and a musical concert that took place in that neighborhood, which was a target of daily mortar shells.
Loud music cracked through the evening silence entwining with the laser beams that shot in different directions in the sky with colorful lights racing to illuminate the walls of the buildings near the tree.
Men and women brought their little children, carrying them high, and kissing them while snapping selfies and singing along with a singer who sang national songs for the audience.
The show was also attended by artists in clown disguise who were entertaining the kids and taking photos with them while the music was playing Christmas songs.
Radwan Khalaf, a man in his 40s, was enjoying his time with his wife and kids, expressing his wishes that such peace could prevail all Syrian areas as well.
“The celebrations this time is for sure much better and more beautiful than before. The atmosphere is super nice and we are so happy. We wish we could have peace every year,” Khalaf told Xinhua.
For Joel Zayat, the situation was different this year as she can hang out with her friends and enjoy the celebrations without tension.
“The celebration this year is very good and the atmosphere is peaceful. We pray for Syria to be better than before. I feel today that everyone is happy and everybody is decorating and getting happy for the holiday,” she said.
Hayan Sayeed, the florist who decorated the large tree in Qassa, said the feeling was different this year when he was making the tree.
He said that the spirit of the holiday could now be felt after long years of darkness and news of deaths and calamities.
“People are now smiling and the spirit of the holiday could be felt again. It’s a new year and a new hope. May peace and stability prevail Syria again,” he added.