Fact Check

Did a Belgian Town Accidentally Decorate for Christmas with Phallic Light Display?

The light display was supposed to be candles, but when they lit up, they put a small town in the spotlight.

Published Nov. 23, 2020

 (Yury Vinokurov / EyeEm)
Image Via Yury Vinokurov / EyeEm
The Belgian town of Oudenburg accidentally decorated for Christmas with penis-shaped lights.

It's hard to think of a more fitting end to 2020 — a year marked by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, economic fallout, and political turmoil — than an attempt by a Belgian town to spread holiday cheer, only to inadvertently install holiday light displays that looked like penises.

The light settings in Oudenburg, near Belgium's North Sea coast, were meant to represent candles. But as The New York Times reports, the small town gained international notoriety when people noticed that the candles, when turned on, "looked more like a certain part of the male anatomy topped with blue lights, illuminating bus stops, green spaces and even the surroundings of a church."

Locals appear to be making the best of it, since the intent of the Christmas display was to lift spirits amid the pandemic in a hard-hit country. It seems to be doing that, albeit for another reason, with Belgian news outlets reporting with amusement the international attention the lights have attracted.

Oudenburg's mayor, Anthony Dumarey, posted on Facebook that the light displays caused his city to make headlines around the world:

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more