Bah, Humbug! to Beirut Souks

Go ahead and censure me, but I’m not liking Beirut Souks’ Christmas spirit this year. No, it’s not the Christmas decorations that have got my feathers all ruffled—I rather like the white- and red-garland trees that dot the outdoor mall landscape. I also found the “I Beirut” in life-size block letters to be cute and original. Way to embody the #LiveLoveLebanon movement and make for an impeccable photo backdrop!

Arches of light as you enter Beirut Souks from Weygand Street

Then is it the Christmas tree? Actually, this year, there are two trees gracing Beirut Souks. There’s the one ornamented exclusively of customized Coke cans to illustrate the #ShareaCoke and #ShareaCokeSawa campaigns sponsored by the beverage giant. The second one glitters with lights and belongs to Patchi.

So if it’s not the décor, and it’s not the trees, what is it? What’s got my knickers in a knot?

It’s the Santa booth, where young children can line up to have their photo taken with a nervous and undersized teenager. Ok, fair enough: they couldn't find a portly old gentleman to don the red-and-white suit and big black boots. 

Santa enclosure

But why the 10,000LL surcharge? Why do parents have to fork over money so that their children can sit in Santa’s lap? That’s not kosher at all. Is Santa passing on the space rental fees to victimized parents? And for what exactly? A Polaroid? Back when I was a kid, a picture with Santa landed me free Gummy Bears and a hug from the sweet, white-bearded Father Christmas.

Instead of being gifted by Santa, you have to pay to get your photo taken with him.

There’s also the cotton candy stand near the restaurant-cafes that doesn't advertise a price for the small cone of cheap sugar byproduct it sells. Order one and it’ll set you back 5,000LL. That rivals the price of a scoop of high-quality, all-natural Haagen Dazs ice cream just a few meters away. How do these vendors get away with conning kids and their frazzled parents?

I don’t know about you, but these low-ball gestures certainly don’t capture the Christmas spirit. It’s about giving, not taking, this holiday season, and Beirut Souks has miserably (and miserly) missed the mark. Bah, humbug!


  1. That is real awful! no one should have to pay to sit in Santa lap.


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