Syriac–Assyrian community of Tel Tamr celebrates Christmas despite challenges

TEL TAMR, Syria — Year after year, Tel Tamr, North and East Syria, in the heart of the Khabur River Valley, along with the nearby Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) villages, witnesses the departure of families seeking refuge from the continuous Turkish bombings and the challenging living conditions they cause.

In a detailed account by North Press Agency, the Christmas celebrations in Tal Tamr were explored through the perspectives of the residents, each with a unique story to tell.

One resident shared her poignant decision to forgo marriage to avoid the pain of separation from her children. However, she expressed the loneliness she felt during this Christmas season, missing relatives, brothers, and neighbors who had already migrated.

This year’s Christmas festivities marked a stark contrast to previous years, with preparations and celebrations commencing a month before the actual day, as highlighted by one of the residents.

Conversely, a returnee from Germany expressed a preference for life in Tal Tamr over the diaspora. He emphasized his decision to return, citing the absence of a fulfilling social life in Germany and spending Christmas alone.

Adonia Kina, an official in the Assyrian Democratic Party, discussed the demographic changes in the region. She noted that the Syriac (Aramean–Chaldean–Assyrian) population along both banks of the Khabur River has dwindled to 21,000 due to war, economic crises, and increased emigration, particularly after the attacks by ISIS in 2015.

Before the Syrian Civil War, Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) communities thrived on both banks, encompassing some 34 villages and a large population in Tel Tamr.