The streets of downtown Lisbon are usually ablaze with Christmas lights around this time - but this year the city has put on a somber show that matches the somber mood of austerity.
The Yuletide gloom is seen across Europe's crisis-hit southern rim, as Athens and Madrid also dim the Christmas lights in a sign of how anxious countries have become about the future.
In Lisbon, the city council has cut its festivities budget to euro150,000 (a little over Rs 1 crore) from euro850,000 (almost Rs 6 crore) last year, leaving main streets short on Christmas spirit.
The frugality has inspired ingenuity.
Artists invited to help Lisbon look more festive have strung up multicolored umbrellas with flashing lights over busy Chile Square.
Across town, passers-by are being given sparkling lapel pins to provide their own Christmas lighting.
"With more rudimentary and low budgets, we're bringing something different to make people smile," said Catarina Pestana, who designed the umbrella lights.
In Portugal, officials aren't just playing Scrooge with the Christmas decorations: The government is pocketing half of most workers' annual Christmas bonus - roughly equivalent to a month's pay - in a special one-off tax to help settle the country's crippling debts.
Image: In this photo taken on Monday, December 5, 2011, artist Miguel Braganca, right, show his puppets to Mariana Correa as she shops on her lunch break at a Christmas market featuring products manufactured in Portugal at Lisbon's Campo Pequeno bullring.
Text: Barry Hatton, Associated Press