The push comes to save the celebration despite the fact that other religious ceremonies – including Christian ones – have been celebrated in a silent manner in recent months.
On Tuesday, the UK government unveiled plans to temporarily ease coronavirus restrictions for five days, from 23 to 27 December, allowing up to three families to party together in “Christmas bubbles”. This means that small groups of family and friends will be able to meet in person for what could be the first time in months.
England is currently undergoing a second national lockdown and the UK as a whole has recorded over 1.5 million Covid-19 cases.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “Christmas will be different this year.” “Many of us long to spend time with family and friends, regardless of our creed or background, and yet we cannot be careful in the face of the wind. The virus does not know that it is Christmas.”
The day before, Johnson warned that while the holiday period may be “the season of fun … it is also a season of extreme caution, especially with elderly relatives.”
Relaxed rules for Christmas
The message that stricter autumn rules may lead to a more relaxed birthday period was repeated across Europe.
In France, a second national lockdown was imposed at the end of October, but despite the closure of non-essential businesses across the country, the government allowed the sale of Christmas trees, by decree.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that the slowdown in the spread of the virus means that France’s lockdown will begin to ease at the end of this week. The restrictions could be lifted further on December 15, if the daily number of cases drops below 5,000 and there are only 2,000 to 3,000 cases in hospital intensive care units.
“So we will again be able to travel without permission, including between regions, and spend Christmas with our family,” Macron said.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged people to abide by the country’s Covid-19 restrictions in order to enjoy Christmas, in a speech he gave earlier this fall. But Italy has since taken a more cautious note.
Sandra Zamba, Italy’s undersecretary for health, said on November 11 that the government wants to avoid big Christmas parties. Instead, she said, gatherings will likely be restricted to close relatives such as parents, children and siblings. “I don’t think we can go any further,” Zamba said in a local TV interview.
The Irish government is set to ease restrictions for nearly two weeks over the Christmas period, and is considering allowing three families to gather for the holidays, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told state broadcaster RTE on Wednesday.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the public to comply with social distancing restrictions in October, in order to maintain Christmas celebrations in the country.
She said on October 17: “We must do our best to ensure that the virus does not spread out of control. Every day is important now.” “What will winter be, what will Christmas be like, it will be decided in the future. Days and weeks.”
German MPs are currently considering a draft proposal that would allow up to 10 people to celebrate Christmas and New Year together, CNN’s NTV reports.
Celebrations turned online
Christmas occupies a unique and monumental place on the religious calendar. But since the epidemic began, Easter, Easter, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Rosh Hashana and Diwali have been celebrated across Europe.
Everything was flagged quietly, without government discussion. None of them attracted the enthusiasm inspired by the possibility of a pandemic at Christmas.
Anjana Singh, 48, runs Amikal, a Hindu community group in Berlin. Singh organized an all-day virtual Diwali celebration to replace the traditional celebrations in November.
“We usually have a lot of spectators, from 500 to 1000, and this is how we usually celebrate Diwali,” she told CNN. “In February it was clear that Corona was here. So Amical decided, let’s do it online.”
She added that “Christmas can be celebrated easily over the Internet.” “Through the digital platform we can all be together, yet we can be safe.”
The feeling that some festivals take priority over others also exists in Britain. Many Muslims in northern England were surprised in July when the government imposed restrictions on the movement of people in some areas, just hours before the start of the Eid al-Adha prayer.
“I think it was right to go into lockdown during the Eid period,” said Nader Muhammad, executive director of the Center for Islamic Policy Research, a London-based think tank.
“I think it wasn’t so much that people disagreed with the lockdown itself,” he said, “It was kind of very last hours.” “There was no effective or timely communication [about the restrictions.]”
A secular and spiritual event
Elizabeth Oldfield, director of Theos, a Christian think-tank, told CNN that the importance of Christmas now transcends religion, making it a patriotic and secular event as well as a spiritual one.
“Christmas is the least substance [Christian] The theological year compares to Easter, “Oldfield told CNN.
She pointed out that this year, “Christians could not celebrate Good Friday or celebrate Easter, which is really important for the majority of Christians.”
She added, “Saving this Christmas is mostly a cultural and civic Christian.” [idea.] It is not about religion at all, it is about national identity and civil identity. “
Oldfield also said that governments know that more people celebrate Christmas in Europe, compared to other religious days. In the UK alone, a 2018 YouGov poll found that nine out of 10 people celebrate Christmas with gifts.
“Sometimes I feel like there are two festivals at the same time,” Oldfield said. “There is the secular, pagan, and consumer festival that brings its own joys and then there is a true Christian festival.”
Muhammad said: “Christmas is not an occasion in the UK that is not seen as strictly Christian. We are past those days, everyone is participating in the celebrations in one way or another.”
Regardless of government efforts, some of the hallmarks of European Christmas have already been canceled due to Covid-19.
In Belgium, all Christmas markets have been canceled, and so is the market in the German city of Cologne. However, the Viennese Christmas Dream Market in Austria, the Christmas Market in Strasbourg in France, and the Basel Christmas Market in Switzerland are moving forward.
On November 10, Estonia announced that all events in the country, including Christmas parties, would be canceled, although the government added that: “Celebrating Christmas with family is, of course, permitted.”
Set restrictions to return
In Britain, government medical advisor Susan Hopkins said that if people mingle over the Christmas holidays, everyone will have to reduce their contacts again after the holiday.
Hopkins said on November 18: “As Christmas approaches, we will need to be very careful about the number of contacts we have, reduce transmission before Christmas and reduce cases to the lowest possible level.”
But other experts believe that people shouldn’t risk gathering for the holidays at all.
“We didn’t make nine months of sacrifice to throw it all away at Christmas,” Gabriel Scully, a visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol, wrote on Twitter on 19 November.
Epidemiologist Chekta Das agrees with Scully.
“The epidemic will remain here, and the government does [best] But these decisions will not help. “We will go into lockdown after Christmas and the price of R will go up,” Das told CNN.
“If you have a very sick person in your family, it is probably best not to meet them. Maybe not a very good idea,” she added.
If Europe chooses to celebrate Christmas by easing lockdowns, there may be a price to be paid in the new year.
The country has been a cautionary tale of the holiday season, said Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.
“The question is, have you got the disease under enough control to start with, and can you, in a sense, allow people a greater freedom during … the Christmas period, which creates a sense of confidence and feeling,” Ryan said in a press release on Monday that joy is in Society, which people need now – without letting the virus rupture again within our own societies. This is a very important trade-off.
Oldfield notes that it is only natural for people to want to gather together to celebrate.
“Sometimes this Christmas saves [idea] You’re crazy, because you don’t want more deaths for pigs in the blankets, “she told CNN. But at the same time there are many deep theological insights [concept] About prosperity through human communication. this is real [happening] Because we just want to be together. “