I don’t usually do lists, but with all the awful news I have been covering lately about demolitions and people getting beaten up, I thought I’d lighten up a little this holiday season. So here are some of the strangest Christmas displays I have seen around town. Some are actually kind of cool, others are completely awful, but all are pretty unconventional.
1.) Suspended East European dancers:
Lebanon loves East European dancers. They fill our variety television shows, and now they are getting us into the spirit of giving… with skin tight outfits. Did I mention that they dance in two glass balls suspended from the mall’s roof?
The guy at the sunglass hut seems thankful:
2.) Flying trees
Lebanon’s newest mall, Beirut City Center, wants a piece of the competition.
Not only are these plastic trees airborne, they also double as… snowflakes?
3. Merry Christmas and F*** u from St. Georges:
Tis the season to fight the power.
Many of you know the long-standing battle between Beirut’s oldest hotel and the country’s largest company, Solidere. The St. Georges owner has been fighting the real estate giant for several years, arguing that Solidere is using its political connections to prevent him from reopening his famous hotel. (You can read more about the land conflict in an Al Jazeera piece I wrote last year. )
The St. Georges “Stop Solidere” sign has been up for at least 6 years, serving as the most visible form of resistance toward the multibillion dollar company. But this is the first time I’ve seen it decorated for the holidays.
4.) Almaza tree
Lebanon’s best known brew works great for a tree the whole family can enjoy.
5. Junior Mafia
Who doesn’t love Lebanese mobsters weaving in and out of traffic with their $200,000 sports cars? Now their children can learn to show off at a very earlier age. They even offer black-tinted windows for all the junior VIPs. Quick, somebody sell them low number vanity plates to make this gift perfect.
This ABC kiosk says it all really.
7.) Christmas tank
Nothing says Christmas like a Vietnam-era Armored Personnel Carrier parked outside a shopping mall.
Checking to see who has been naughty or nice with a 50 caliber machine gun?
8.) Year round tree
Call it municipal incompetence or call it endless holiday spirit. When I noticed the Naccache neighborhood still had its 2013 tree up last September, I realized it probably wouldn’t be coming down in any time soon.
9.) Fake snow flake machine
If flying trees were not enough (see number 2) City Center mall is also making it rain with fake flakes, which fall gracefully on its 5 story tree:
10.) LAU: Blinded by the light
The Lebanese American University wants to make sure you know what time of year it is. In fact, they are recreating the light of the stars that led the three wise men to baby Jesus. But they would probably need sunglasses if they stumbled onto LAU campus today.
Despite the rampant and strange consumerist displays, it wouldn’t be right to ignore many folks in Lebanon that have truly embraced the sprit of giving this season.
Such as the kids who volunteered with the soup kitchen Food Blessed, who were taking donations at a Badaro Christmas fair:
You can check out their website here.
I also noticed this stand at ABC where you can buy a teddy bear for 40,000LL that will help put a disadvantaged kid through school:
It’s part of the “Teach a Child” NGO and you can check out their site here.
Finally, why not give the gift of recycled Lebanese garbage? I also found this stand at ABC mall that uses discarded Beirut advertising canvas to make cool bags:
In the meantime, Beirut Report wishes you happy holidays and very merry/strange/Lebanese Christmas!