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Religious festivals have taken a backseat in Europe during Covid-19. Now leaders are prioritizing Christmas

November 26, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

2020 has not been a festive year for Europe, but as it comes to an end, many governments across the continent are scrambling to avoid stringent lockdowns during the Christmas season.

(CNN)2020 has been far from festive, but as the year comes to an end, many of Europe's governments are scrambling to avoid stringent lockdowns over the Christmas holidays.

The UK government on Tuesday unveiled plans to temporarily relax coronavirus restrictions for five days, from December 23 to 27, allowing up to three households to celebrate together in "Christmas bubbles. " This means small groups of family and friends will be able meet in person for what may be the first time in months.

Sandra Zampa, an undersecretary at Italy's Ministry of Health, said on November 11 that the government wanted to avoid large Christmas parties.

The Irish government is set to ease restrictions for nearly two weeks around the Christmas period and is considering allowing up to three households to gather for the holidays, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told state broadcaster RTE on Wednesday.

German MPs are currently considering a draft proposal which would allow up to 10 people to celebrate Christmas and New Year together, CNN affiliate n-tv reported.

"Christmas could also easily be celebrated online," she added.

Elizabeth Oldfield, the director of Theos, a Christian think tank, told CNN that Christmas' importance now extends beyond religion, making it a national and secular event as well as a spiritual one.

"Christmas is less the crux of the [Christian] theological year compared to Easter," Oldfield told CNN.

Oldfield also said governments know that a large number of people celebrate Christmas in Europe, compared to other religious days.

On November 10, Estonia announced that all events in the country, including Christmas parties, would be canceled, though the government added that: "Celebrating Christmas with family is, of course, allowed. "

In Britain, government medical adviser Susan Hopkins has said that if people mix during the Christmas break, everyone will need to reduce their contacts again following the holiday.

If Europe does choose to celebrate Christmas with a softening of lockdowns, there may be a price to pay in the new year.

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