The ethical calculation families across the UK have to make about seeing loved ones this Christmas could have far-reaching and potentially fatal consequences. The government has laid down the rules, but the moral choices lie between the gaps. Those who urge caution, even a postponement of Christmas, say it’s about taking personal responsibility to make everyone safe, and that it would be wrong to let our guard down now that the vaccine ‘cavalry’ is just over the other side of the hill. The other side of the argument is that, at the end of a terrible year, we deserve something to celebrate with family and friends, even if that means taking greater risks for a limited period of time. Do we have a right to Christmas? At what price? What is certain is that Christmas this year won’t be business as usual. So perhaps it is an opportunity to re-evaluate how and why we celebrate it? Some believe the pressure to conform to Christmas as we know it is psychologically bad for us. They are critical, sometimes for religious reasons, of what they see as months of build-up, driven by consumerism, all for a couple of days of rampant excess and dashed expectations, putting a strain on relationships. Is this a moment to reflect on the things that really matter; empathy for others over individualistic materialism? Others resist the call to simplify Christmas or to go back to its ‘original meaning’. Since time immemorial, Northern European cultures have celebrated a mid-winter festival, and before the Victorians re-invented Christmas, the season has always been somewhat raucous. Many think it should be a time of joyful celebration in the middle of dark nights and dark times; a gesture of companionship and welcome in modern, multi-cultural and multi-faith Britain. With Prof Linda Bauld, Ronald Hutton, Laura Perrins and Dr Steve Taylor.

Producer: Dan Tierney.

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