In her home in Bab Sharqi in Damascus, Ms. Layla sits down next to a small Christmas tree. She used to decorate the tree herself every year, with different decorations from the previous years. But this year her decoration will be the same as previously. “The decorations will be simpler and less expensive due to the high cost of decorative supplies.”
The price of Christmas trees and decorations rose as various commodities, and the price of a small ornamental ball reached 3,000 Syrian pounds, while the price of large ones exceeded 7,000 Syrian pounds.
One tree needs at least 20 baubles, while the price of a Christmas star reaches 30,000 Syrian pounds.
The price of a medium-sized Christmas tree exceeded 600,000 liras, while prices of Eid trees exceeded 2 million liras in a market in the capital, Damascus.
Laila told Hashtag: “This year is the harshest year of the Syrian crisis in terms of high prices and poverty. Maybe we won’t be able to do what we used to do in the past years. There will certainly be rationing in gifts, celebration and even food. Maybe we won’t be able to go out to celebrate outside.”
“International” prices in restaurants and hotels
Days before Christmas and New Year, advertisements for celebrations proliferated in restaurants across Syria. According to many Syrians interviewed by Hashtag, prices reached abnormal heights, which only the well-to-do could attend.
For example, based on Hashtag’s investigations, the price of a concert ticket for Ziad Bourji and Cyrine Abdel Nour at the Dama Rose Hotel reached 650,000 Syrian pounds for VIPs, 550,000 Syrian pounds for first-class seats, and 450,000 Syrian pounds for second-class seats.
The price of a ticket to attend the concert of the artist Moeen Sharif reached 600,000 Syrian pounds per person (for VIP seats) and between 400,000 and 500,000 Syrian pounds for a regular seat.
The cost of one person to attend the concert of the artist Assi Al-Hella, which will be held in the same hotel, is 750,000 Syrian pounds (for VIP seats), 550,000 Syrian pounds for first-class seats) and 350,000 Syrian pounds (for second-class seats). The price of admission to Joseph Attia’s concert is 625,000 Syrian pounds (VIP), 525,000 Syrian pounds (first class) and 450,000 Syrian pounds (second class).
In a similar price range, the Narges Palace restaurant in Old Damascus advertised a Christmas party where ticket prices were set for the concert of artist Sarah Zakaria at 450,000 Syrian pounds (VIP), 350,000 Syrian pounds (first class) and 175,000 Syrian pounds (second class). Tickets for the concert of artist Zakaria Radwan cost 150,000 Syrian pounds.
A source, who preferred not to be named, told Hashtag that “most restaurant and hotel party bookings are now closed. The turnout is good this year due to the conditions in the country, and we are still receiving bookings until now.”
Home celebrations are expensive, held in the dark
Despite the high prices for celebrating in restaurants and hotels, Reem Abboud prefers to go into debt to celebrate outside the home. “Even if the celebration is extravagant, it is more comfortable psychologically, as no power cuts and no cold can limit the joy of Christmas,” she says.
Reem said that this year’s Christmas looks different from previous years, with frequent power cuts, and the celebration will be overshadowed by darkness and the burden of most families being in distress.
As every year, with the wave of high prices leading up to festive seasons, Syrian families will need to have a large budget to celebrate on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.
A family of five needs about 500,000 Syrian pounds to celebrate indoors, according to most market surveys. Prices of vegetables, fruits and meat rose starting in the middle of December. Meanwhile, the Syrian Ministries of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection and Tourism have announced their willingness to monitor markets and punish price gouging.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.