How The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Curbing Christmas In Europe
Mutti Knows Best
Angela Merkel -- affectionately known as "Mutti" or "Mummy" -- has warned Germans to limit socialising in case "it ends up being the last Christmas with the grandparents."
But the sacrifices do not end there. The Chancellor urged her compatriots to forego mulled wine and waffles at the country's beloved Christmas markets.
Canada's Brian Pallister was even more forthright. "I'm the guy who's stealing Christmas to keep you safe," said the Manitoban Prime Minister as he warned people to stay at home.
"If you don't think that Covid is real right now, you're an idiot," he added.
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "the best gift you could give is the gift of health."
Even Queen Grounded
Belgium and Luxembourg have taken one of the toughest lines, asking their citizens to limit Christmas to one guest per household, or two for people who are living alone.
Germany says only close family members should get together, and only then if people limit their contacts for the previous week.
In the US -- which saw infections rocket after the Thanksgiving holiday -- the Centers for Disease Control said "the safest way to celebrate is to celebrate at home with the people who live with you." It has also appealed to people not to travel.
And just across the border in Quebec, the authorities revoked their decision to allow people to gather for four days over Christmas after infections spiralled.
France wants no more than six adults around a table.
In Britain -- where the Queen, 94, will not be leaving Windsor Castle -- families are permitted to get together so long as no more than three households are involved.
Italy has effectively banned travel between regions from December 21 to January 6, with still tighter controls for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on local travel. A curfew will also be in force.
Belgium and Luxembourg will also have curfews. Only Christmas Eve -- the night that families and friends traditionally celebrate Christmas -- will escape France's even tighter night-time curfew which normally starts at 8 pm.
Travel between different regions of the country, however, is permitted.
No Pantos Or Mulled Wine
Germany, which is closing schools and non-essential shops from Wednesday will essentially outlaw traditional mulled wine stands by also banning the sale of alcohol in public places.
Pantomimes, one of Britain's much-loved seasonal treats, have also bitten the dust, with theatres closed, and Scotland's Hogmanay New Year knees-up is going online.
But in some European countries, like Switzerland, where restaurants are still open, they will be allowed to serve extra late on New Year's Eve.
Christmas Night Mass in Bethlehem in the West Bank, where Christians believe Jesus was born, will go ahead without a congregation this year.
And Midnight Mass at the Vatican in Rome will also be curtailed to fit in with the Italian curfew, Pope Francis said.
Greece is allowing churches to reopen for Orthodox Christmas on January 7 and the feast of the Epiphany so long as there are no more than nine people inside, or 25 for cathedrals.
But singing in churches has been banned in Switzerland.
A little cheer
Traditional Austrian Christmas markets are also off, while people in Madrid will no longer be able to ring in the New Year by swallowing 12 grapes at midnight on the Puerta del Sol.
Fireworks displays have been banned in Belgium and the Netherlands, with the New Year's Eve spectaculars also cancelled in Paris and London.
Nevertheless, the huge fireworks display in Sydney, Australia, which usually kicks off global celebrations, will go ahead with the country all but Covid-19 free.