Festivities, Holiday Season and the Pandemic!

By Tobias Sjöstedt

2020 will be remembered as the year that felt exceptionally long, and the year that made us rethink our way of living. And even if we want to celebrate Christmas the way we always did with our friends and family members; this year calls for a bit of rethinking as well. But even if 2021 with all its experiences is just around the corner, there’s no need to not celebrate what’s left of 2020 – we just need to be a bit more creative when it comes to celebrating the upcoming Christmas. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how technology has changed our way of celebrating Christmas and what you should think of.

How has the pandemic impacted the way holidays are celebrated?

In a year where nothing is the same, we all long for some form normality. The thing that makes Christmas so special in the eyes of so many is the traditions and the way we celebrate them together. Countries all over the world invite you for celebrations that leave an impact for the rest of your life. But due to travel bans and limitations to big gatherings by governments to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it’ll be harder and/or even impossible to attend these events. This year, the annual Cavalcade of Lights the lights up the entire city of Toronto with fireworks and glittering lights in the dark month of December has been cancelled for this reason.

But when problems occur, solutions are to be found because the human will always fly wherever it wants to go. This Christmas the world will come closer than ever before thanks to the internet. So why not enjoy a live stream from the Santa Village in Rovaniemi, Finland or the inauguration of the Bock in Gävle, Sweden. And hopefully, the "tradition" that burning it down won't repeat as it did last time in 2016…

What would be different this Christmas & New Year?

But what if you have to go travelling for some reason? Depending on where you live, the possibilities of seeing your loved ones will be different. On June 15 2020, the website Re-Open EU was launched by the European Commission as an app and website. The plan is to make it easier when planning a trip within the EU. It provides information such as open or closed borders, travel restrictions and rules regarding social distancing and the use of face mask. This means in short that if you’re an EU citizen or from a Schengen Associated country (Norway or Switzerland) travelling to another EU country, you’re allowed to enter without restrictions.

When travelling outside the EU, the situation changes even more. The best way to found out what applies to your destination of choice, please visit COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map by IATA and check it regularly because as the situation’s changes, so does the travel restrictions. Local outbursts of the virus can change the situation radically and also check what kind of help you can get from your country’s government in case you get stuck in a foreign country with limited possibilities of getting back home.

Guidelines for Christmas & New Year

And so, it's time to finally celebrate Christmas day. The crackling from the fireplace, the smell of the food you've been longing for and the excitement that only Christmas gifts can bring and that's hanging in the air. In this part, we'll go through how to make the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as safe and magical as possible.

  • Before you go travel - how do you feel? Have you shown any symptoms or feeling sick lately? Travel only if necessary and outside of rush hours/popular travel dates. If that's not possible, bring a face mask, hand sanitizer and keep distance. Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid big gatherings. Try to only celebrate with members of your household (people that shares the common spaces with you regularly) and try to keep the presence of people that don't on a low. The less the people, the less the chances are getting sick.
  • Depending on where you live, try to celebrate as much as you can outdoors. Poor ventilation in a small room with lots of people increases the chances of spreading the virus. If that's not possible, open a window to keep the room ventilated.
  • Shorten the stay to its bare minimum including gathering, eating and giving gifts.
  • Keep a constant dialogue with your guests. If anyone feels the slightest symptom such as headache, fever, cough, feeling more tired than usual - tell them to stay at home.

Cook a limited number of meals and let one person do the serving and avoid singing, shouting or playing games.

What not to forget?!

Yes, the corona pandemic has been tough on us throughout the year. Life has been turned upside down which has increased the level of stress and anxiety not knowing what will happen in the future. And in times like these, we need our loved one more than ever before. But what if you're in quarantine or just feeling nervous visiting others? Here are some great activities you can by yourself, with your family and friends - both classics and some new ones:

  • Start the day with a great Christmas breakfast
  • Take a walk and if possible - build a snowman
  • Gather the distant relatives for a Christmas celebration via Skype or Google Hangouts
  • Do a video chat with Santa
  • Arrange a movie marathon with some snacks

But the most important thing is to stay safe and prioritize what matters the most to you. If you decide to visit the annual Christmas dinner, make sure that you're taking precautions by bringing your face mask, keeping a distance from your guests, and keep the visit short. But if you rather stay at home reading a book after the Skype call with your grandchildren, do so. In a world with a new set of rules, Christmas is the perfect time to not only break them but to come up with your own set of rules. And think positive - by this time next year, it will be Christmas and we’ll be together again.