Last week, little winter wonderlands sprang up around town. Pictured below is the one in Celemenceau's Gefinor center, a smaller version of another one at Zaitunay Bay. When I first heard of these markets I was immediately hopeful. We used to live in Germany, and the Christmas markets there are almost magical. I'd love to have that here in Beirut. But my hopefulness eroded slowly as well-intentioned yet skeptical friends warned me that it wouldn't be like Germany.
A few days ago I went to the market at Zaitunay. The kids had a nice time, but I felt a little empty inside. Santa was there, but the Christmas spirit (whatever that is) wasn't. I left feeling sad.
But wait, that is not where the story ends!
I happened to pass by the market at Gefinor yesterday evening. I didn't expect to like it, after all it looked almost identical to the market at Zaitunay.
But I couldn't help liking it. Not because of the imported wooden chalets and not because of the dressed-up bell-ringing Santa. Not because of all the delicious things on sale or the festive music playing in the background.
I liked it because I saw families and friends, happy to be together, enjoying the season and a pleasant time together. That was it, the christmas spirit I'd been looking for.
If you're in Beirut, you should go. Go with friends. Friday's your last chance.