Celebrating the Christmas season in Lebanon with lights, fireworks

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BYBLOS AND BEIRUT, LEBANON (Reuters / CBS Newspath) -- Christmas trees are up in Lebanon, the streets are full of the season's decorations and people are getting into the festive mood as many find a way to escape political instability and economic problems.

Christmas trees are up in Lebanon, the streets are full of the season's decorations and people are getting into the festive mood as many find a way to escape political instability and economic problems. Courtesy: Reuters / CBS Newspath

Hundreds of locals, joined by tourists and visitors, gathered in the capital Beirut on Monday (December 3) for the lighting events of the Christmas trees and decorations.

"The festive season is for everyone with its joy. We consider it a s sign of peace and union of all religions, not only Christian even if it's Christmas. Joy is for everyone, and we wish it lasts in our country, this is the most important," said Manu Markarian who attended the celebration in Beirut.

Lebanon has suffered spasms of political crisis and violence since its 1975-90 civil war. Top Muslim Sunni leader, Saad Hariri, has been unable to form a new government since a May parliamentary election, with rival factions still at odds over the division of cabinet seats.

Hariri remains head of a caretaker government in the meantime.

Kids looked enjoying the lights, music and action, while elder people highlighted how Lebanese know well how to be happy and joyful "despite the situation".

One Lebanese expat, Marwan Madi, has just moved back to his home country after 12 years of living in the Gulf, and was amazed by the season's festive atmosphere.

"It's a shame to go anywhere while we have this in Lebanon and we have professional people who work everything professionally. Season's greetings to everyone and we wish peace for Lebanon," he added.

Lebanon has the world's third highest debt-to-GDP ratio and a new government must be in place before Lebanon embarks on major fiscal reforms.

The International Monetary Fund said in June these reforms are urgently needed to put the debt on a sustainable footing.