Queen Elizabeth changed her Christmas plans. For the first time since 1988, I skipped celebrating with the family at Sandringham Castle, for Christmas on a smaller scale at Windsor Castle. The reason, of course, is the omicron variant of covid-19, which is spreading like wildfire across the UK with new restrictions as a result.
Even in Sweden, the tough Christmas present with nine new restrictions was delivered in time on Christmas Eve, and many restaurants received unpleasant memories of last year’s strict rules as Stefan Lofven explained that they were already completed in October. Experimental vaccine sessions have barely begun before it’s time to tighten up again: only sit-down service is allowed in bars and one meter between limbs applies.
In the pub, we can joke about the dysfunction that affects most people on some scale during the most demanding holiday of the year.
In other words, it won’t be “any celebration in a nightclub on New Year’s or returnees,” our new Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson said at a press conference this week. The best night of the year is thus cancelled. It might be for the best, but you can still feel sad. For a homecoming night on Christmas Day, it’s perhaps not only the most festive and fun night of the year, but it also provides a magical escape from all the necessities that come with Christmas.
Regardless of the family situation, the comfort it means to leave the family at the table as all the friends who have moved out of town suddenly find themselves in a tradition as sacred as Christmas Eve itself. In the pub, we can joke about the dysfunction that affects most people on some scale during the most demanding holiday of the year. And it’s easy to forget that people’s circumstances for celebrating Christmas are very different.
In SvD writes Karl Sederström talks about being forced to celebrate Christmas as a divorcee without his children, and how he cries until the Christmas tree is nowhere to be found in the fringes. In DN writes Hannah Hillquist talks about escaping into the magic of Christmas to avoid thinking about IVF treatment failure. And in this magazine Heinek Pallas writes About celebrating Christmas in exile, when family traditions are the only thing you have as a newcomer to a country.
This year, the quota for unmarried people will be renewed with people infected with the Covid virus and forced to put themselves in quarantine
For many, Christmas is the worst time of the year, because it requires an uncomplicated and rare community. Some are also forced to celebrate with someone they fear, someone who hurts them, or someone who drinks a lot or quarrels. Others are forced to celebrate without anyone at all, and this year’s quota of solo revelers will be filled with people who have COVID-19 and are forced to self-quarantine, or who cannot travel home because departures have been cancelled.
The rest of us get one for the team and do like Queen Elizabeth: Change our Christmas plans and celebrate Christmas on a smaller scale away from bar counters, crowds, and dance floors. But in a dream, I remember all the evenings of homecoming in an extra romantic light, because they testify to a time when everything was as usual.
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