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December 23, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree

Athens Christmas1.jpg

Athens Christmas 3.jpg

Athens Christmas 2.jpg

Yet in they dark streets shineth, the everlasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

I hope I’m not casting too dark a shadow on the holiday. (I do have a more lyrical image for Christmas day.)

After weeks of violence in Athens following the shooting death of a teenager by Greek police, protesters have been persistently trying to defile the city’s Christmas tree in Syntagma Square. (The previous tree was burned down by rioters back on the 8th.) Apparently, the prolonged outrage over the incident is being fueled by deep seated frustration over the world-wide economic crisis, rising unemployment and government corruption.

I find these images brilliantly unsettling, the fanciful lights and ornaments juxtaposed with officers of the state. Nothing draws a greater contrast between the simultaneous fancy and tense uncertainty in the air this week than riot police guarding Christmas trees, as well as troopers in full riot gear dashing past outsized toy soldiers. And yes, that is the head of a pig, its appearance seeming to mock the holiday banquet out of reach for so many.

(h/t: Brian C.)

(image 1: John Kolesidis/Reuters. December 20, 2008. Athens, Greece. image 2: Petros Giannakouris/AP. same. image 3: Petros Karadjias/AP. same)

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