Christmas in Aleppo: Charity gives nativity a Syrian makeover

Christmas in Aleppo: Charity gives nativity a Syrian makeover
Charity Doctors of the World UK launched alternative Christmas cards depicting traditional Biblical nativity scenes against a backdrop of images from modern wars in the Middle East.
2 min read
29 November, 2016
Among the cards is an image of the three kings [Doctors of the World]
Doctors of the World UK launched Christmas cards featuring traditional biblical scenes superimposed on images of today's war-torn Middle East.

The charity behind the hard-hitting campaign entitled "tis the season to give a damn" sought to remind people of the wars still raging during the festive season.

The cards launched on Sunday to mark the first day of Advent.

"Today we unveil our 2016 Christmas cards that starkly juxtapose vintage biblical nativity scenes with modern-day photographs of conflict zones across the Middle East," Doctors of the World said.

"Rather than making a religious statement, these images seek to remind the public that this year war has forced millions from their homes, and they really need our help," the charity said. 

Among the cards is an image the three kings travelling to greet Jesus, but looking up to the sky to see war planes instead of a star to follow. 

Another image features Joseph leading a pregnant Mary on a Donkey through what appears to be a war-torn Aleppo.

A third illustration shows Joseph and Mary watching over baby Jesus as a missile launches above them in the sky.

A fourth image shows Joseph and Mary cradling baby Jesus inside a destroyed building rather than a stable.

"We saw a huge irony in the war-torn imagery of the Middle East today, when compared to the imagery of the nativity, and its message of 'peace on earth' and 'goodwill to all men'," Mike Oughton, creative director at McCann London, who designed the cards said.

"By creating a set of Christmas cards that seamlessly merge the past with the stark realities of the present, we hope to prick people's consciences."

Pictures of the cards quickly gained traction on social media platforms as users shared them with the hashtag #realityxmas.

Conflicts across the Middle East have led to the biggest displacement of people since the Second World War. 

The UN estimates some 65 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of violence and armed conflict.