After singing the national anthem, the speech of the master of ceremony and media person Lea Fayad and a documentary on the decoration design phases, Mr. Zaarour delivered a speech, which he started by quoting Pope Francis “Love is the greatest gift we can give to one another”, adding that “for this reason, we chose the theme of our Christmas decoration this year to be “Jbeil, the City of Love and Light” because we love Jbeil. We got together, united from different religions and holding hands. We were able to succeed, thanks to your trust, to deliver a message to the whole world, that a city in Lebanon has been living in peace and always will, so we can be able to stand here every year like we used to do in the previous years, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who has called on us to love one another as He has loved us and to spread the joy around us and to every visitor of our city. Jbeil is the city of Light because the “Light of God” will illuminate the entire city of Jbeil this Christmas.”
“All the Christmas trees that have decorated the Roman Road for the past years, funded by Byblos Bank, are now spread out all over the city, in every street and in the suburbs, to give light to everyone”, Zaarour added.
“The tree behind me, big in size and value, symbolizes with its green color perpetuity and hope, and reflects life in nature”, Zaarour added. “Using 300 imported small trees, we have built a big 30-meter-high tree, which is the tallest natural Christmas tree in Lebanon”. Zaarour affirmed that “once the festivities are over, the municipality will plant these 300 trees in all city streets so they will grow with us year after year and be part of the Christmas decorations in the coming years. We are doing all this because the environment is one of our main priorities in the municipality of JBEIL.”
Zaarour explained the importance of the Christmas symbols, noting that the nativity scene remains the most beautiful and meaningful symbol of Christmas, because Jesus Christ, our Savior, was born in the Crib. For this reason, we wanted this year to have a big Nativity Scene.
As we take the walk down to the Nativity Scene, we will see four steps of fields of wheat symbolizing Bethlehem and kiosks symbolizing Christmas”, Zaarour noted.
“This amazing decoration is the fruit of the work that lasted for months”, Zaarour clarified while thanking Reverend Archbishop Michel Aoun and all priests of Jbeil, from different Christian denominations, for their blessed contributions in all the spirituals details of the decoration. He also thanked Mr. Salim HABIB, the chairman of IBL bank, for his enthusiasm to answer our demands for funding the Christmas decoration this year and supporting the Byblos International Festivals; and Mr. Kamal ABI GHOSN, vice president of the chairman of the board of IBL for standing by our side. He also gave thanks to the company “Christie’s” who has designed this decoration. He continued his speech by thanking Ziad EL HAWAT, MP, with whom our Christmas decoration story has begun in 2010 and who has led the way before us for the development of JBEIL on all levels. Least but not last, Zaarour thanked every person who has contributed to make this Christmas a success, namely City Council members, the committee in charge of the Christmas decoration, architect Bechara Youssef, employees, workers and all media, especially LBCI and National NEWS Agency.
Zaarour ended his speech by quoting the American Philosopher Mark Twain “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”, particularly because, Zaarour added, “our Christmas decoration boosts the economy in the city and all over Lebanon, and spreads joy and happiness to all its citizens”.
“Our gathering in Jbeil, the city of Knowledge and Light, is to light up Christmas tree" Habib said, wishing “a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with joy, happiness, stability and prosperity.”
“Today, our country is going through difficult and harsh conditions and the Lebanese are suffering from distress. We look, in this occasion, at the symbolism of the event and not just at the symbolism of the ornaments”, Habib added.
"The Christmas tree light is a humanitarian message of great significance, as each one of us, depending on his ability and position, illuminates the path of others," he said.
"The Bank considers lighting up the tree to be a national and social obligation, through which we will seek to light a candle of hope for every young man and woman to jump-start their lives; for every head of a family who strives to raise his children and secure a future for them; and for every investor who wants to establish a business. Our policy aims to provide joy, give hope and support success. It is not just a customer relationship but a social and national bond. Our only concern is helping our people in their daily lives and developing their capacities", Habib declared.
"This tree is also the symbol of life and generosity. Going back to its roots in Byblos and in the rest of Lebanon, our bank seeks to bring hope to people and fill their hearts with joy in the spirit of love, solidarity and participation. We stand here before you showing our commitment to our social, economic and national role. We will keep a flame of light illuminated to serve, together, the common good”, Habib explained.
"I hope that the light of Christmas will shine in the hearts of all the Lebanese and in the beloved city of Byblos," he concluded.
El Hawat then gave a speech whishing all Jbeil citizens and Lebanese people a Merry Christmas.
“It is true that today we are lighting the Christmas tree and decoration in this city, but what matters the most is that we are lighting up the hearts of all Jbeil citizens and Lebanese people. This is the Lebanon that we should all strive to light. This is the future of the Lebanese youth, eager to have a life filled with joy, love and success”, El Hawat added.
“The city of Jbeil is a model of success. Look at its City Council that is working tirelessly for the benefit of its city and its people, and at this ancient city. I hope that Lebanon will follow the same path, hand in hand, to build the future of Lebanon”, El Hawat said.
“Today, Christmas season begins. We hope to establish and build as soon as possible a State of law, sovereignty, dignity and human rights. Enough sadness and disgust. We are all left today in a state of despair. We have to give everyone hope to stay in their homeland”, he declared.
“Lebanon is the best country in the world. We will work to build the homeland we dream of. I call on all Lebanese to remain steadfast in their homeland and to never leave it. These difficult times that we live in must end to give rise again to a country of peace, freedom, sovereignty and independence. A country of joy, love and light”, El Hawat concluded.
Afterward, everyone walked to the Nativity scene that Bishop Aoun blessed, praying to God that “through the intercessions of Jesus Christ, that peace and security prevail on our homeland Lebanon and all the world. May the harsh times we live pass as soon as possible, and may love and fill your hearts”.
This year, the Christmas tree is characterized by its environmental-spiritual nature. It is made of 300 small trees that will be distributed all over the city at the end of the holidays. The tree is 30-meter-high and has a star on its top.
The ornaments, designed by the Lebanese company “Christie’s”, summarizes the history of Christianity and how this religion happened. In the first step, we will be living Christmas in the present, as we all know it: with the tree, the gifts and the lights. Then, we move between the golden wheat sticks reminding us that “Bethlehem”, where Jesus was born, stands for the “House of Bread”. In the third step, we discover the six pillars of Christianity, being joy, generosity, forgiveness, trust, prayer and family. The sixth pillar, Love, is the birth of Jesus Christ. In the fourth step, we travel back in time to Bethlehem and follow the Bethlehem star in the sky to get to the fifth step, Bethlehem and then to the Nativity scene, where the Savior was born.