Christmas begins today, with hundreds of millions of people around the world celebrating the holiday in a limited way under the overwhelming impact of the pandemic. The battle with Covid-19, the pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1.7 million people around the world, is not over, despite a series of major vaccination campaigns that promise to bring life back.
Covid-19 overshadows Christmas
Churches across South Korea were deserted, with worshipers performing online prayers as the country reported a record high number of new infections. “I’m sad to see this,” said Park Jae-woo, a member of Yoido Evangelical Church in Seoul, where up to 10,000 worshipers regularly attend at this time. Today, the church can only accommodate 15 staff members and choirs. In the Philippines, where most people are Catholic, the whole country was rocked by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. This event ruined the already gloomy Christmas atmosphere because of the ban on parties and singing due to Covid-19.
Despite the warm weather, frequent Australian picnickers also avoid Bondi Beach in Sydney, while the waves are empty Santa surfs, only the police patrol to make sure people follow the rules. social distancing. Pope Francis, spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics globally, celebrated Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in front of about 200 masked worshipers, mostly Vatican City employees. small. The ceremony is traditionally held at midnight, but this year it had to be held two hours earlier to meet Italy’s curfew. On the evening of December 24, St Peter’s Square, which is normally packed with people on Christmas Eve, was deserted, with only the light of a towering Christmas tree and the headlights of a police car.
The new Covid-19 restrictions apply from December 24 during the Christmas and New Year period across Italy, the country hardest hit by the virus in Europe, with nearly 71,000 deaths and more than two million. Infected case. Pope Francis stressed that Christmas is not a time to “moment one’s loss, but to soothe the tears of the afflicted” and to serve “the poor”. Bethlehem, which Christians believe is the birthplace of Jesus, is preparing for a Christmas unlike any in modern history.
Christmas Eve Mass at the Church of the Nativity is traditionally the highlight of the holiday season, when hundreds of thousands of visitors will flock to the Palestinian city of the West Bank. This year, they can only attend the ceremony via online form. Only a few priests and individuals were allowed into the cathedral, which had been disinfected before the ceremony. “Everybody feels dark, tired, exhausted, under the pressure of the burden of the pandemic that has gripped life,” said Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem.
In war-torn northeastern Syria, hundreds of people in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in the town of Qamishili removed their masks and Santa hats, carefully lighting their Christmas trees. “We were concerned celebrations would be canceled this year because of Covid-19, but you see, everyone is celebrating and we are happy,” said Maria Danhou, 36, a mother of two. . Germany has been forced to cancel popular Christmas markets, while in Kuwait, churches are closed until January 10 despite the country having a large Christian community.
Many people have lived in quarantine for the past year and will continue this way of life until Christmas, or even longer, as in Belgium, where people are limited to only one visitor to their home. Meanwhile, British people are isolated from other parts of the world because of the emergence of a new strain of nCoV. Some restrictions on the UK border have been eased over the holiday season, but thousands of people from other European countries remain stranded in the UK.
“Stay at home for Christmas? Forget it,” said Laurent Beghin, a French truck driver who delivered all of his goods in the UK but remained stuck here for days.
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