How merry will this Christmas be?

There are festive meals to be planned, and gifts and Christmas trees to be bought, while at the same time war and inflation are weighing on our minds. Many people in Europe will no doubt find it especially hard to be merry over this festive season. But the pre-Christmas stress will still pay off, some commentators predict.

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Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Creating memories for the future

The point of the festive season is to preserve family traditions, feature writer Jana Machalická stresses in Lidové noviny:

“In my youth I felt annoyed and emotionally blackmailed because the whole family had to sit around the table at Christmas. My beloved grandmother, who embodied the Christmas traditions, always predicted that she certainly wouldn't be around the next year. She lived to be 98. In this way we remember those who can no longer be with us. By doing things as they wanted them done, we bring them back to life. Perhaps my little granddaughter Mařenka will remember years from now how I forced her to spend Christmas with us, and she will be a little moved by it, as I am today.”

LRT (LT) /

Father Christmas is a woman

Women already carry a heavy load in everyday life, and with the festive season their tasks multiply, author Vaiva Rykštaitė rails in Lrt:

“At Christmas this invisible work becomes even more complicated because the average mother buys gifts for her children, her husband, her parents, in-laws, her neighbours, her friends, her colleagues and her husband's colleagues. Meanwhile the husband buys a gift for his wife and feels like a hero. ... Of course this is a stereotypical, sexist narrative, but it reflects the reality more often than we like to think. ... Father Christmas is in actual fact a woman, and every child should know that.”

Seznam Zprávy (CZ) /

Guilt-free trees

Seznam Zprávy reassures readers who still have doubts about whether having a real Christmas tree is appropriate these days:

“The trees are usually felled after ten years, which means that for every tree harvested, nine others grow in the tree farm for at least one more year. Tree farms also provide a refuge for rare birds such as warblers and larks. Many endangered beetles also thrive on tree farms. When it comes to conserving biodiversity, a tree farm is much better than a corn or maize field, for example. Moreover, as soon as the trees are felled, new ones are planted in their place. So forget about having a guilty conscience!”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

Thrift pudding

Efimerida ton Syntakton complains that even the small luxury of a good Christmas meal is unaffordable for many financially weak Greek families:

“For an average family of four with two or three guests, Christmas dinner with a main course, salads, fruit, some traditional desserts and drinks has become up to 50 percent more expensive since last year! ... Nothing comparable has happened with salaries and incomes though. [Europe's] governments and central banks are hardly willing to allow wage increases that would compensate for the dreadful losses of workers due to inflation and, above all, the much higher real price increase that is plundering incomes and emptying fridges.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Enforced frugality won't make us happier

This year there will be fewer gifts on the table and the food will be less sumptuous for many people. But will people be happier because of it? asks Svenska Dagbladet:

“Many people will unfortunately realise this Christmas that the festivities will hardly be merrier just because consumption has been reduced. There has always been something insincere and simplistic about the speeches against the alleged materialism and self-centredness of our times. ... For most of us, many of the things related to Christmas combine the material and the spiritual.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Stress for sensitive minds

We expect too much of ourselves at Christmas, says Tygodnik Powszechny:

“Christmas is said to be a time of reconciliation, happiness and love. But for many sensitive people it's a very stressful time. ... First there's organising all the details of the celebration (presents, Christmas Eve, etc.), which often means a lot of extra work when time is already tight and schedules are full. Second, culture and tradition have created the image of an almost perfect Christmas, which consciously or unconsciously places high expectations and demands on ourselves and our environment. Third, during the holidays we often meet up with family members with whom we don't have a particularly good or close relationship.”