As the festive Christmas holiday approaches, Christians around the world are anticipating to mark a new celebration for the birth of Jesus Christ. But for Christians in Syria, Christmas will not be the same this year.
“We used to wait yearlong for Christmas Eve to come,” said Sherien, a Christian mother residing in Aleppo.
“We used to spend every day during December buying and preparing gifts for the family and planning what the Christmas dinner will be comprised of.”
She said her 11-year-old twins begged her not to allow Santa Clause to visit them this year, as they are “terrified every time they see the color red.” With a cracked voice over the phone, Sherine said her kids witnessed the death of their older brother as he was beaten by other civilians outside of a bakery trying to grab the bag of bread he obtained after long hours of waiting in line.
The majority of the 1.8 million Christians in Syria will not be celebrating Christmas this year for a handful of reasons.
“I can’t see myself celebrating and boasting when my family and people back (in Syria) are not even able to find a loaf of bread to eat or peace to live in,” said businesswoman Talin, who is currently residing outside of Syria.
This Christmas, by far, is the worse Syrian has ever experienced, said 53-year old college professor Bassam.
A high number of deaths caused by starvation were reported earlier this month, as the country’s shortage of life’s necessities grow daily.
“This is the darkest, most devastating Christmas Syria has ever seen,” said a Syrian mother.
She said the probability of Christians attending church services is very slim, as Syrians don’t have the energy, good health and means to get groomed when bread, gas, and electricity have become their wish for Christmas.
Christians in the country are concerned about attending church as they’ve done in the previous years, as two Christian towns in Hama were threatened by armed fighters demanding the Christian groups turn away from supporting the Assad regime.
Syria’s new Greek Orthodox leader spoke in a press conference on Friday and asked Christians not to leave the country claiming the presence of Jesus Christ in the Middle East region, “where Christianity was born.”
Christians in Syria are known to be supporters of the Assad regime, fearing massacres targeting Christian in the case of Islamist groups taking over the country.
Syria’s 2012 Christmas will be a day of mourning over the lost and praising the survival of the ones who survived the 22-month-old brutal Syrian revolution.