How do you say 'Merry Christmas' in Arabic?

Trip Start May 22, 2009
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Trip End Feb 16, 2010


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Flag of Syria  ,
Friday, December 25, 2009

عيد ميلاد مجيد


But don't ask me how to say it!

What a different place to have Christmas.  On one hand it seems so wrong, but on the other hand it’s so right. 

Without any of the usual distractions, I had nothing to do but read my bible and think about Christ’s birth.  That to me seems to be the right thing to do on Christmas.  Plus, what a perfect place to me.  Reading through Luke, I hear mention of Syria in the Christmas story.  This is the biblical landscape.  Even the everyday dress of some people is the stereotypical Nativity scene.  Men in long robes with scarves wrapped around their heads; women in and shawls with heads covered; donkeys and camels touting tassels; shepherds in the fields; exotic spices for sale; an ancient language spoken.  It all seems like that first Christmas may have been.

Wandered the empty souq in the quiet of this holy day.  However, the quiet here was because it was Friday, and not anything to do with Christmas.  Only a few high scale hotels marked the day with some decorations hanging in the windows for their foreign guests. 

Instead of carols sung, the minarets men sang their warbly minor tunes. 
Instead of gingerbread, shortcake and turkey, we feasted on falafel, fresh juice, and schwarma. 
Instead of writing Christmas cards, I mailed a few postcards. 
Instead of hanging stockings by the fire for presents to fill, I hung my hand-washed socks and underwear to dry.
Instead of sitting by the fire, we sat around a coal fire. 
Instead of visiting with old family and friends, we chatted with newly found friends. 

A different Christmas, but a good Christmas. 

In stark contrast was the 26th when everything was up and running again.  Like boxing day shoppers, the souq was crammed with people buying fabric, spices, shoes, soap, nuts, sweets, raw fish - all bartering for the best possible price.  Not even elbow room allowed, the streets were congested with people, animals, carts and vehicles sometimes grinding the flow to a halt.  Not a recommended place for a claustrophobic.  Felt like too many Great Aunt Mildred’s giving you a close embrace.  But exciting at the same time.  The Syrian souqs are some of the most interesting shopping experiences I've ever experience. 
 
Many new things, but the same underlying tone.  So perhaps our Christmas wasn't so different after all. 

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