Christmas comes but once a year, as the nursery rhyme says. But this year it will be different. Thanks to the pandemic, it is not quite so easy for the festive season to bring good cheer. Christmas is all about human contact and celebrating it in the usual fashion will, therefore, risk spreading the virus. Governments around the world are trying to find ways of allowing people to enjoy a little Yuletide happiness without sparking a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases. Hong Kong’s Christmas has already been curtailed. The lights and decorations are a little muted this year, with so many businesses hard hit by the impact of the pandemic. Measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus have, necessarily, restricted traditional festive activities. Parties must take place virtually, if they are held at all. Bars and other entertainment venues are closed, so Christmas drinks are off. Restaurants shut at 6pm and are only permitted tables of two before then. Even the Hong Kong Ballet’s much-loved performance of The Nutcracker has been cancelled. This winter solstice, let’s put the dark days behind us and rebuild Christmas traditions bring their own risks. A kiss under the mistletoe is not advised this year, unless it is with a member of your own household. Hugging is out of the question. Scientists have warned that playing board games, another festive pursuit, is best avoided. Keep your distance if visiting a shopping centre Santa. Christmas carols also pose a problem, as anyone who has tried to sing Ding Dong Merrily on High through a mask will know. On a more serious note, travel restrictions will mean many families are separated this Christmas. And those of the Christian faith will not even be able to attend church services. Religious venues remain open, but no gatherings are allowed. For many, Christmas will not be quite the same without midnight mass. Christmas in Hong Kong amid the coronavirus pandemic It has been a similar story around the world, with lockdowns, curfews and quarantine measures restraining the usual celebrations. In Britain, for example, a worrying new strain of the virus has led to a tightening of restrictions. Even before that development, people were being told to keep their Christmas small, short and local. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wished everyone a “merry little Christmas,” emphasising the “little.” It is enough to make Santa weep. But however we mark the Christmas period, we should reflect on a year that seen more than 1.7 million people die from Covid-19 globally, with more than 100 deaths in Hong Kong. Our thoughts are with their loved ones. This has been a miserable year and Christmas will, despite the difficulties and the sadness, bring much cheer. We must keep the festive spirit alive as best we can, but do so responsibly. The Post wishes all our readers a very happy – and safe – Christmas.