Will we be able to celebrate Christmas and New Year with our loved ones this year? If so, how and with what consequences? With less than a month to go before the end of the year holidays, these questions are on everyone’s lips.
UCLouvain put them to thirteen experts from various fields (virologists, sociologists, philosophers and psychologists) and as one would expect in a complex situation like the one we know today, their answers vary greatly depending on their area of expertise.
“The question is not so much whether to celebrate Christmas but rather how. If we celebrate Christmas in a classic way with 15 or 20 people who eat, drink and laugh for several hours and mix stones and slices of different ages, there is a real risk. If one of the guests is sick, there is a real risk of infecting the other guests and if we multiply these meetings throughout Belgium, it could be problematic! ”, Says Leïla Belkhir, infectious disease specialist at Saint-Luc university clinics.
According to the expert, the Covid must push us to show imagination. “Celebrating Christmas is important to many people. We need hope but we will have to show imagination by organizing, for example, a walk or an outdoor dinner ” .
Michel Dupuis, philosopher, believes that it is important to be able to celebrate Christmas. “Our cultures have a great need for celebrations, be it Christmas, the New Year or Eid. These holidays are important because they humanize us. The crisis shows us that we need social contacts and that their absence induces mental pathologies. But that doesn’t mean you have to do whatever it takes and consume at all costs. Above all, we need to rediscover the sense of celebration, the unexpected and the relationship ” , he suggests.
A point of view shared by Vincent Laurent, sociologist of health. “It is illusory to think that a population could not celebrate Christmas. Human beings are spiritual beings, they need social support. Studies have shown that for each day of confinement, the population faces a three percent increased risk of developing psychological distress ” .
But for Niko Speybroek, celebrating Christmas this year represents too great a danger. “We will have to take into account the level of spread of the virus in the population at the holiday level before making a decision. Otherwise, we risk destroying the efforts of several months in one or two days. We must also take into account the effects of government announcements on the population. We cannot know the effects of an announcement of an easing. Part of the population may perceive this as a green light. ”