How do Christians under pressure for their faith celebrate Christmas? In the sixth of our series we hear from a Syrian Catholic who has come to Britain as a refugee.
“Back in Damascus we would have a big meal with our extended family on Christmas Eve – anything from three to 10 courses – before going to Midnight Mass and wishing each other a happy Christmas,” remembers Nadim, a former tour company operator.
“Then we’d have another special meal on Christmas Day with our immediate family, and perhaps visit friends in the morning or the afternoon. We would eat Syrian delicacies, although the idea of turkey is invading the world!”
Nadim fled to the UK as a refugee after his family’s house in the Old City in Damascus was bombed as Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda offshoot and Sunni extremist group, shelled their part of the city. He travelled first, then his wife and two sons got permission to come almost a year later, in November 2016. “Last Christmas was very special – to have my wife and sons with me again and to see them safe,” he adds.
Having run his own business in Damascus, Nadim has found work in a hotel in London and has requested Christmas Day off. Although his immediate family is safe, his extended family remains in Syria. “I worry about the continued unrest in my country though: my wife and I both still have relatives in Damascus and I worry we’ll get bad news,” he says.