Perhaps, Christmas 2020 will leave unforgettable memories for many people because this year is a very different year in the context of the still raging COVID-19 epidemic.
Christmas in the time of COVID-19
In the holy city of Bethlehem, a place considered by Christians to be the place where Jesus was born on Christmas Eve 24/12, the preparation for Christmas is no longer the same as every year. This year, the mass event at the Church of the Nativity, which has always been the focus of this festival with hundreds of thousands of visitors, is not open to the public, instead being broadcast online. Only clerics and select individuals are allowed inside the Basilica. Several festivals have preceded it, including a bagpipe procession heading towards Manger Square.
Most countries in the “Old Continent” are experiencing a harsh winter with the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketing. Germany was forced to cancel the organization of popular Christmas markets. Meanwhile, Pope Francis held Christmas Mass at the Vatican two hours earlier to match the curfew in Italy. In his Christmas Eve message, the Pope expressed his desire to visit crisis-ridden Lebanon, and called on the political leadership in South Sudan to continue to promote peace.
In the UK, the people of this country seem to be “cut off from the outside world” due to the emergence of a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Some restrictions on the UK’s borders have been temporarily relaxed over the holidays, but thousands of people from other European countries are still stranded in the UK. Meanwhile, people in Scotland and Northern Ireland (both British) and Austria are celebrating Christmas and New Year in lockdown. Portugal also canceled all New Year celebrations, and imposed a curfew on the night of the transition to the New Year.
This year’s Christmas season has become more strange when it is necessary to strictly comply with the requirements of social distancing and avoid contact to prevent the spread of disease. However, COVID-19 only makes the way to celebrate Christmas different from other years, not losing the warm atmosphere but also helping to promote creativity to “live with” the epidemic during this festive season.
The day before Christmas, Santa Claus personally rode an elephant to a province in Central Thailand to donate masks to raise awareness about the threat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
During the past two decades, Thai people are no stranger to the image of elephants appearing at schools at the end of the year to distribute candy and toys to children. This year, due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the elephants also have to practice social distancing, so they can only stand outside the school and distribute masks instead of the familiar gifts.
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