SYRIA: Christmas festivities continue in Zalin and Holeb despite security tensions

ZALIN and HOLEB, Syria — Despite the ongoing security tensions and economic difficulties in Syria, Christians in the country continued their Christmas celebrations.

Under the patronage of the Syriac Orthodox Church Local Council, the Al-Raha Foundation for Syriac Music and Heritage in Zalin (Qamishli), North and East Syria, held a spiritual Christmas evening at Mor Gabriel Hall titled “Star of Christmas”.

The evening was attended by Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Gozarto (Jazira) and Euphrates Mor Maurice Amsih, members of the Church Local Council, a number of priests, and a large gathering of believers.

The evening included Christmas hymns, a Christmas play and spiritual meditations on Christmas, in addition to a speech by Archbishop Amsih. He spoke about the sublime meaning of Christmas, the message of salvation that the Lord Jesus carried through his birth, and his humility in spreading the word among people to glorify the name of the Lord.

In Holeb (Aleppo), the Christmas village festival was opened and a Christmas tree of peace was lit in Al-Hatab Square in the old town in the presence of priests from various denominations and a large gathering of Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) and Armenian people.

The festival included a performance by the Armenian Scout Troupe, the lighting of the Christmas tree and grotto, and the singing of hymns by the Angelo Choir.

The festival will last for three days and will include 18 festive activities, as well as 36 sections that feature handicrafts, gifts, and special Christmas foods.

A statement issued by the festival’s board of directors stated that the Christmas village in Holeb is a symbol of the vibrancy of the Christian presence in the city. It said that the birth of Christ gives hope to Syrians of all denominations and it is a message of joy, love, and peace to the whole world in times of immense pain and suffering.