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Christmas 2020: History and How to celebrate in the time of COVID-19

Valerie Mai Valerie Mai

mnghonganh@gmail.com

December 18, 2020 | 10:35

Christmas 2020: Whenever you celebrate Christmas, remember that you're celebrating a real event that happened about 2000 years ago!

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Photo: American Greetings

Christmas is now celebrated by people around the world, whether they are Christians or not. It's a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have. However, not everyone knows how Christmas was invented and why it is celebrated on December 25. Let's find out below!

History of Christmas

What does the word "Christmas" mean?

Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. The name 'Christmas' comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service is where Christians remember that Jesus died for us and then came back to life. The 'Christ-Mass' service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day), so people had it at Midnight.

Why December 25?

No one knows the real birthday of Jesus. However, there are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, according to Why Christmas.

A very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25th - and it's still celebrated today on the 25th March. Nine months after the 25th of March is the 25th of December.

The Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah starts on the eve of the Kislev 25 (the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December). Hanukkah celebrates when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem, again following many years of not being allowed to practice their religion.

How did Christmas start?

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter.

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking, said History.com.

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Photo: South China Morning Post

Christmas 2020: How to celebrate safely amidst COVID-19

Digitalize Christmas with online gatherings

Virtual Christmas party ideas are specific ways to observe Christmas online with your remote teams. Just because you can't get together in person doesn't mean you can't see your friends and family on Christmas. Send everyone a Zoom link and host your party online. Make sure you've got a few games and conversation starters ready too.

A Covid Christmas party needs space

Because indoor gatherings pose more risk than outdoor gatherings, consider hosting Christmas outdoors. If you can’t host outside, choose a well-ventilated space, or open windows and doors as much as possible, according to Paperless post

If you’re planning to host outdoors, investing in the right equipment will go a long way to keep your friend and family comfortable. Keep warm with an outdoor tent, wearable blankets, hot hands, a fire pit, and outdoor heaters. Place blankets on each seat for guests, set up string lights or set out pillar candles to add a dose of hygge.

Enjoy holiday crafts with a small group of friends

Set up individual stations outdoors where you can get a little messy. Look for all your materials at your local craft store like wreath rings, wire, pine cones, and ribbon to make your own holiday wreaths, decorate some cookies or cook your favorite recipe of mulled wine. In the time of COVID-19, the more now does not mean the merrier!

Watch a Christmas movie with your loved ones

Watching a movie is the perfect way to spend the time between presents and dinner, or to unwind after the festivities end. Don't forget to nosh on treats or sip cocktails (or mocktails!) while you watch. Christmas 2020 may be one of the rare times when you can enjoy your holidays entirely at home in your favorite pajamas!

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Photo: Hanoitimes

How Christmas celebrated worldwide during COVID-19?

This Christmas, things are going to be different, with all the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Thankfully, people around the world are adapting to a socially distant version of the holiday.

The United States: CDC calls for small gatherings

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a guide to celebrating holidays in the face of COVID-19, in which it instructed how to hold small gatherings and overnight parties safely. According to CDC, people with or exposed to COVID-19, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others, is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results, may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days should avoid in-person gatherings.

In New Jersey in the US, The McCarter Theatre Centre has adapted one Christmas tradition, offering curated boxes to allow families to perform the classic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol at home. The Mall of America in Minnesota launched an online Santa experience, having rejected a proposal to put Santa Claus behind a glass panel to respect social-distancing rules.

Germany: Hard lockdown with shops closed

Germany will enter a hard lockdown over the Christmas period, as the number of deaths and infections from the virus has surged in recent weeks. Non-essential shops and schools will close nationwide during the lockdown, which will last from 16 December to 10 January. Chancellor Angela Merkel has blamed Christmas shopping for a "considerable" rise in social contacts.

A maximum of five people from no more than two households is currently allowed to gather in a home. But this limit will be relaxed from 24 to 26 December, when one household will be able to host a maximum of four close family members from other households. Children aged under 14 are not included in this limit.

France: Travel restrictions lifted over Christmas

France on 15 December lifted a lockdown imposed on 28 November, but strict measures are still in place as infections are still high. Restrictions that meant any trip outside the home had to be made for a valid reason, certificated on paper or a smartphone, have also been lifted. Instead, there will be a nationwide curfew from 20:00 to 06:00, which will be lifted on Christmas Eve but not on New Year's Eve. Theatres and cinemas will remain shut as will bars and restaurants.

UK: Temporary 'Christmas bubbles' allowed

A brief window of special restrictions has been introduced across the UK to allow people to celebrate Christmas. Between 23 and 27 December (or 22 to 28 December in Northern Ireland), there will be no travel restrictions and people will be able to mix indoors and stay overnight. The number of people who can mix is limited, however. So-called "Christmas bubbles" can include a maximum of three households in most of the UK or up to eight people in Scotland, according to BBC.

China: Holiday events in major cities will go ahead as usual

In China, holiday events in major cities will go ahead as usual. Expect to see a Christmas-themed mass pillow fight on Christmas Eve in Shanghai, and a concert of holiday classics the same day, billed as an “evening of peace”. In Hong Kong, shopping malls have pulled out the stops with elaborate Christmas installations and lights even as the city battles the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, said SCMP.

Vietnam: Christmassy feeling fills the air

As Christmas is coming to town, big cities across Vietnam are filled with festive decorations. From streets to streets, groups of people join the crowds to celebrate the occasion even though Christmas is 6 days ahead. Even small alleys are illuminated with blue light from hundreds of tiny light bulbs. The intricate light show gives the residential areas a much more vibrant, festive vibe. The Christmas vibes also "overflow" to commercial centers, where everything is lighted up at night, Christmassy decorations, stuffed Santa Claus, artificial snows, and big Christmas trees are ubiquitous.

People, including youngsters and families with children, take advantage of the bling background to have instagrammable check-in photos. In some big amusement parks or shopping centers in the capital city, colorful lights of “giant” Christmas trees have been beautifully decorated to lure visitors’ attention.

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Valerie Mai