An infographic going viral claims to show the cost of celebrating Christmas in different countries around the world. The infographic was created using data from WorldRemit, a UK-based company that provides international money transfer services.
According to the infographic, Lebanon is the second most expensive country in which to celebrate Christmas, with Canada ranking as the most expensive.
The infographic puts the average cost of celebrating Christmas in Lebanon is $2,058 USD, with 46% going towards food, 46% towards gifts, and 9% towards decorations.
However, something doesn’t make sense, especially considering that Lebanon is currently experiencing an economic crisis.
So we looked into their data and methodology:
Items were selected based on “desk research”
Researched average price of each item for an average family on an average income
Prices were researched online mid-October 2022
Exchange rate from the local currency was calculated on Monday 24 October
Food costs = Cost of the main Christmas dinner (assumes meal feeds a household)
Gift total = Cost of Christmas presents for family and friends (assumes gifts spend covers a given household)
Decorations total = Cost of Christmas trees, decorations, fairy lights, etc. (assumes decorations spend covers a given household)
Interestingly, they then shared the prices and breakdowns with “a local of that country” that they hired to “validate the data as correct, and where needed, make appropriate adjustments..”
There are concerns about the accuracy of these claims, as the official exchange rate of $1 = 1,500LL is no longer in use in Lebanon outside of the government.
Additionally, the inclusion of prices from Em Sherif, a high-end restaurant, may not be representative of the average person’s Christmas celebrations, as they claim to show the cost for an average family on an average income.
One issue is the use of an outdated exchange rate, which doesn’t accurately reflect the cost of items in Lebanon.
Additionally, the inclusion of prices from high-end restaurants may not be representative of the average person’s Christmas celebrations, as it is unlikely that the average person would be ordering take-out from these types of restaurants for their Christmas dinner.
There may also be a discrepancy between the prices listed in the infographic and the actual prices of items in Lebanon, as the country’s commerce is not fully digitized.
According to the data they collected, they priced the following:
Fatayer from Carrefour: 154,990LL, calculated at the 1,500LL rate so $103.33, instead of $3.40
Dates, which isn’t really part of Lebanese Christmas traditions: 94,999LL calculated at $63 instead of $2.
Toy cement truck: 446,000LL calculated as $297.33 instead of $9.78
Christmas lights from Makhsoum: 186,355LL calculated as $124.23 instead of $4
“Mezze cold” was priced at 255,000LL, which was calculated as $170 instead of $5.60. They used Em Sherif’s menu and chose the most expensive dish in that category, Batenjen (eggplants), rather than a more common and affordable option like hummus, which is priced at 95,000LL ($2.08) and widely available for cheaper across Lebanon.
For the “mezze platter,” they went to Liza Beirut, where it was priced at 580,000LL, but was calculated as $387.66 instead of $12.71.
Lebanese people spend a total of 3,384,476LL on Christmas. This amount is equivalent to $2,256 using the exchange rate of 1,500LL, but in reality, it is only worth $74.22.
Lebanon receives an average of $7 billion in inbound remittances each year, which is among the highest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This may be an attempt to capture a share of this market.
WorldRemit, a company that facilitates remittances, is currently valued at $5 billion.