From Travel Bans to Smaller Gatherings, How the World Will Celebrate Christmas Differently This Year

Many families and offices may find their celebrations moving virtual.
Many families and offices may find their celebrations moving virtual.(Getty)

Many expats are having a hard time returning home to their families while turkey farmers can't seem to sell any larger birds.

What will Christmas look like this year? With travel bans, safer-at-home and non-essential gathering restrictions, the upcoming holidays around the world are sure to look a lot different than they did in years past.

Many countries are reporting a shortage of smaller turkeys as a result of smaller gatherings. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reporting a significantly higher demand of turkeys weighing 8 to 16 pounds, while an award-winning turkey farmer in Scotland is worried his stock of large turkeys will go to waste and is encouraging people to purchase their normal size and freeze the leftovers.

"We spend all year growing this beautiful piece of meat, this one hit of the year," Craig Michie of Barra Bronzes Free Range Turkeys told BBC News. "It's a terrible shame for all the turkey farmers in the county to have these kilos of birds going to waste."

Seeing friends and family you wouldn’t normally see until the holiday season will also be rare, as many officials recommend a quarantine bubble. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have come up with a united approach that allows up to three households to meet in the week surrounding the holidays.

For those who prefer to err on the side of caution, many parties and gatherings might be instead held virtually.

While many places have set up different guidelines for religious gatherings, a traditional midnight Mass will likely also look different. The iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is only offering tickets to midnight Christmas Mass for parishioners, with exceptions for Children’s and Spanish services on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

The annual Christmas Spectacular typically held at nearby Radio City Music Hall and featuring the famous Rockettes has been cancelled, along with Broadway shows, which are not slated to return until at least May 30, 2021.

Additionally, expats around the world are facing additional barriers to going home for the holidays.

Ireland officials warned those living abroad not to return home for the holidays, calling traveling home for the holidays non-essential travel. Irish people living abroad, however, are responding with frustration and disregard, with some vowing to be tested and to isolate before visiting family, and others simply stating, “See you in December,” according to the Irish Times.

Ireland is currently under lockdown after seeing a spike in October. The recommendation to stay away, however, seems to contradict the guidance by the European Center for Disease Control, which allows Irish people to travel home as long as they receive a negative COVID-19 test before traveling.

Meanwhile, France is extending their lockdown after seeing a spike in November, and expects to begin easing their restrictions beginning in December into January.

Despite originally playing down the possibility of a second wave, Sweden is now also seeing a spike, with officials warning that travel restrictions could be implemented before Christmas and advising people not to make large-scale plans for the holidays.