Christmas 2020 and the Pandemic

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Retrospectively it is hard to recollect the events of Christmas 2020, which begin to merge into the grey-tinted months of the pandemic. As we slowly ease out of this pandemic, this blog aims to preserve my personal experiences of Christmas 2020, an experience many others can relate to. On December 25th, 2020, there were 39,036 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK, with 574 deaths on the same day (WHO, The United Kingdom: WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard | WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard , 2020). As a contributor to this statistic, I found Christmas a time of fluctuating emotions, the usual festivities of Christmas had been extremely dampened. For university students returning home at Christmas, this period is usually spent reconnecting with friends and family; therefore it is no surprise that with the knowledge of possible lockdown, and definite restrictions over Christmas, 57% of university students surveyed by the Office for National Statistics claimed to have worse mental health at the end of the autumn term, compared to at the beginning (Office for National Statistics, Coronavirus and the impact on students in higher education in England: September to December 2020 – Office for National Statistics, December 2020).

Activity: As the exhibition progresses re-write one Christmas song, using lyrics related to the exhibition theme, and your own experience of Christmas 2020 and the pandemic


In the context of a global pandemic, attempting to celebrate what is often referred to as “the happiest time of the year”, proved challenging for my family. Living in “tier 4” Norwich, meant we were not permitted to meet any other households on Christmas day; additionally, in the week building up to Christmas, we all tested positive for the virus. Emotionally and physically this was difficult, creating a contrast between the joys of the Christmas period, and the mental/physical strain of the virus. Physically my parents were the most impacted by the virus, spending multiple days in bed, while me and my brother only suffered from mild flu symptoms. Mentally we all admitted to feeling frustrated, and drained, with a mutual understanding that Christmas would not be near what we’ve come to expect. Once we had accepted this, however, and removed any expectations it became easier to enjoy and appreciate the smaller aspects of Christmas and family.

Coronavirus, CDC Newsroom, Image Library | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC


In the early Roman Empire, salt was considered a valuable material, salt was even used to pay the soldiers of the Roman army. On Christmas day, this became a relatable scenario for my family. Having lost almost all taste, salt became the one gem that gave any sensation to food. The great effort my mother went through to cook Christmas dinner (although appreciated) would have been completely in vain if it wasn’t for the additional salt. My mum did understand the situation, however, this of course, caused slight tension, after the fifth and sixth pinches of salt were added to the meal she spent hours preparing. These unspoken tensions became quite familiar during our isolation period, and I can assume worldwide also, due to the Christmas lockdown forcing families into close proximity. Additional salt continued to be added to our meals for the following two months until our taste slowly returned.


Picking up my guitar again over Christmas, gave me an escape from the stir-crazy result of lockdown. Giving me, and my family, a healthy separation from each other. At first, I pushed myself to learn more complex songs and riffs; however, eventually gave up and resulted back to songs I was familiar with. This represents a wider theme of the pandemic. The cycle in which many of us found ourselves in, starting with an optimistic motivation to conquer a goal, whether it be to learn an instrument, or to exercise, and stay healthy. Eventually, for many of us, we became worn down by the pressures of the pandemic and reverting to our comfortable, less active state. After a while, for me, the motivation came back, and the cycle repeated itself. Many new activities and hobbies were taken up during the lockdown period, they acted as a way to take our minds off the pandemic.

Christmas Tree

As the most iconic symbol of Christmas, the Christmas tree, in my house felt like the last hope for any sense of Christmas cheer. Decorating the tree was the same as it has been since I can remember, my Mum, agreeing to let me and my brother help but eventually removing everything we’ve contributed, telling us the colours don’t match, and our tinsel placement looks messy. For that brief moment we all forgot about the wider situation, and just enjoyed a family tradition, that even a global pandemic could not prevent. Personally, the tree became a representation of this, every time I passed it in the living room, it gave me a sense of normality, and tradition, that had been lost in such an unstable year. Being forced to avoid the wider world, made me appreciate these smaller family traditions, as an important part of my life.

Christmas tree, The Denver Post, Craigslist post for free artificial tree leads couple to give away hundreds of Christmas trees – The Denver Post

“The Interpretation of Dreams”- Sigmund Freud

When given Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams” on Christmas, as a gift that related to one of my university modules, I would be lying if I said I felt thrilled or excited. Eventually, I picked it up and read through the first chapter, the book aimed to understand the unconscious/subconscious meaning of dreams. This was a refreshing turn of events for me, for months the pandemic, and lockdown had forced me inside my head, bringing all my conscious anxieties to the forefront. It was comforting to explore the ideas of the unconscious mind, providing an escape from the feeling of being trapped. As a university student in the UK, the feeling of being trapped at Christmas was widely shared, many of my friends were uncertain when, or if, they could return to university, or home. Therefore escapism was necessary, whether it be a book, a game, alcohol, etc.


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