Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 23, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree

The head of a pig is placed in front of policemen as they stand guard in front of a Christmas tree during a demonstration in Athens December 20, 2008. People protesting over the fatal shooting of a youth in central Athens two weeks ago, threw garbage at the Christmas tree at central Syntagma square.  REUTERS/John Kolesidis   (GREECE)

Riot police officers protect the Christmas tree during a protest in central Athens' Syntagma Square , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. A crowd of about of 150 clashed with dozens of riot police when they threw garbage at a tall Christmas tree and hung trash bags from the tree branches. The original tree was burned by protesters in the first days of the violence, following the Dec. 6 shooting of a 15-year old teenager. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Riot police officers protect the Christmas tree during a protest in central Athens'  Syntagma Square , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. A crowd of about of 150 clashed with dozens of riot police when they threw garbage at a tall Christmas tree and hung trash bags from the tree branches. The original tree was burned by protesters in the first days of the violence, following the Dec. 6 shooting of a 15 - year old teenager.  (AP Photo / Petros Karadjias)

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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