The joy of the festive season has, in recent times, been severely suppressed by Covid-19. This year, with restrictions lifted in most parts of the world, the holiday is being welcomed as the first post-pandemic Christmas. It may not seem like that in Hong Kong, with case numbers high, fears of hospitals being overwhelmed and many social-distancing rules still in place. But the gradual relaxing of curbs has given many businesses a much-needed boost at this traditionally busy time of year. The greater freedom to eat, drink, shop and be merry will bring more Christmas cheer. There are hopes the eagerly anticipated reopening of the border with mainland China will soon occur, bringing social and economic benefits. This is a welcome change. Hong Kong residents were told to stay at home for the first Christmas of the pandemic, in 2020. Bars were closed and restaurants shut at 6pm. The World Health Organization warned of the dangers of hugging. As Britain’s then leader put it, “tis the season to be jolly careful”. Last year, the highly transmissible Omicron variant was spreading around the world. Hong Kong, in contrast, had experienced a period without local transmissions. But Christmas could not be enjoyed to the full. More than 300 people were fined for breaching Covid-19 rules in a Christmas Eve crackdown. A record number of flights were suspended on Christmas Day and a catastrophic spike in cases loomed. No wonder the city is keen to embrace Christmas this year. The impressive decorations, from the flashing trees of West Kowloon to the artificial snow in Discovery Bay, have lifted spirits. The festive season is a time to enjoy life. But Christmas has a deeper meaning. It is also about giving, caring and considering others. Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19, which has claimed more than 6 million lives globally. Transport services between Hong Kong and Macau to resume after eased curbs The pandemic is far from over in mainland China, with a worrying surge in cases. This will be the first Christmas since the war in Ukraine began, with thousands killed and millions displaced. A thought should be spared for those suffering as a result of this and other conflicts. Christmas, although a Christian festival, is celebrated around the world in different ways. The message it conveys, of peace and goodwill to all, is one that can be embraced by people of all faiths. It is about tolerance, kindness and putting aside differences. Such attributes are much needed now and in the future amid political divisions and global tensions. Hong Kong deserves a little festive joy and cheer after three bleak years of pandemic pain. Let us hope 2023 brings good tidings. We wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.