A Byzantine image of Mar Elias

That’s right. Last night was a Saint’s Day in Lebanon for the Eastern Christian community, honoring Mar Elias (St. Elias). I don’t know very much about these celebrations (being half-Muslim, half-Protestant), so I had to ask a police officer what on earth was going on. Zahle, being overwhelmingly Christian, celebrated with a prolonged series of blasts. Fireworks and gunfire raged from nightfall until around midnight – I honestly thought I was in a war zone.

Given the typical regard for safety practiced in Lebanon (which is to say, almost none), it isn’t too surprising that at least two fires broke out on the hill on the other side of town, and sirens were screaming into the night trying to get through Lebanese clogging the streets, honking their horns just to be festive.

I understand that it’s about celebrating, having a good time, etc. But the fires were very avoidable. My downstairs neighbors were firing little fireworks (the children, actually) from their balcony! No regard for where they aimed them. Despite the obvious flames and smoke rising in spots of the city, no one thought to stop firing their fireworks. Apparently, living in a region filled with lots of dry, flammable grass is not incompatible with momentary pyromaniacal pleasure.

If I still had my camera there would be picture-proof, but I do not. It all just seemed silly and avoidable.