How Christmas won over COVID-19
Christmas Day may be over, but the holidays are far from done. Everywhere in the world, people continue to celebrate the December spirit, this time waiting for the dawn of the New Year.
Our celebrations this year are particularly unique. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many traditional festivities involving mass gatherings were cancelled. This, however, doesn’t mean that the world has been devoid of the joy and the fun. Rather, many of us became creative in celebrating the holidays with our family and friends while still following quarantine protocols.
Specifically, we’ve changed the way we see space in order to protect ourselves during the festivities. Architecture has been pivotal in keeping us safe this year, and Christmas time is no exception. Here are some interesting ways space has been transformed to allow us to still enjoy the holidays amid the pandemic.
The return of drive-ins
In the UK, Christmas is not the same without the Panto. A British take on the traditional pantomime, the Panto is basically musical comedy theater usually held during the winter months. It has its roots dating back to the 15th century, which makes it a beloved cultural tradition in this country.
This year, with COVID-19 restricting many UK gatherings, fans of the Panto were at first bummed out at the idea that they couldn’t watch their beloved theater acts. For the Birmingham Stage Company and Horrible Histories Group, however, the constraint was merely an opportunity to get creative. In partnership with the Car Park Party group, the two organized the world’s first national tour of drive-in Christmas shows. Requiring spectators to stay in their cars throughout the performance, the drive-in pantomimes have been a hit so far. Each show is held on open grounds with an average limit of 300 cars per timeslot. Numerous families get to watch comedic performances within the safety of their vehicles. Viewers can even participate in the performances by honking their horns, flashing their lights or turning on their wipers upon cue.
According to BBC.com, the performances are “weird but wonderful.” While these bring the centuries-old tradition outside the traditional venues, the drive-in performances ensure that the show can go on despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An urban Christmas forest
While people can’t gather nowadays, there’s no rule prohibiting the gathering of trees.
Granary Square in King’s Cross, London, is currently the site of an art installation commissioned specifically for the holidays. Dubbed the Electric Nemeton, the installation features tall, pyramidal structures that bring to mind a grove of pine trees. This artwork is a brainchild of Sam Jacob Studio, an architectural and design group in the UK. It displays a remarkable play of light, shadow and space in an outdoor venue. According to its creator, the Electric Nemeton “contributes a little more to the possibilities of winter life outdoors.” It encourages people to bask in the outdoors, where fresh air and natural ventilation are believed to help thwart the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Sam Jacob Studio intends its work to act as “an idea of hope for the return of our social and public lives.” It is a simple artwork that not only celebrates the essence of unity in today’s times, but also lights the way with faith in a better future.
A yummy virtual exhibit
While the patrons of the Museum of Architecture (MoA) in London couldn’t enjoy the institution’s annual “Gingerbread City” Christmas exhibit this year, there’s a silver lining for the rest of the world. MoA has provided a free online interactive tool allowing people to appreciate last year’s exhibit, showcasing architectural masterpieces built from gingerbread biscuits.
The exhibit features works from some of the most recognized names in the architecture industry. Firms such as Grimshaw Architects, Kohn Pederson Fox, Design International and SPPAARC have all made miniature cities that are as appetizing as they are appealing. The edible creations feature intricate detailing made out of frosting, candies, cookies and lights. Beyond the usual gingerbread house, there’s a gingerbread factory, gingerbread skyscraper, gingerbread apartments and even a gingerbread palace. More than a child’s wonderland, the exhibit is the architecture aficionado’s ultimate escape from reality.
Close-up shots and short descriptions are provided in the virtual tour. For those who have dreamt of visiting MoA’s annual Gingerbread City exhibit but never got the chance, now is the perfect time to see it for yourself from the comfort of your home.
Christmas in our hearts
While there are many things we can’t do this Christmas, it doesn’t mean that the holidays are cancelled. The COVID-19 restrictions have actually forced many of us to become creative and appreciative of the more valuable things in life. It has given many of us a newfound appreciation for our families, communities, and even our culture.
Surprisingly, despite the limitations, the world has become even more united, given our shared experience of the pandemic this year. So whether you’re planning to celebrate the rest of the holidays on a virtual tour or to host simple festivities at home, be thankful for all the wonderful things that remain with us this year. While COVID-19 may have changed the way we celebrate, Christmas remains an eternally joyful occasion that no pandemic can extinguish.
Museumofarchitecture.org, Thegingerbreadcity.com, Luke Donovan via the Gingerbreadcity.com, Car Park Panto Facebook Page, Samjacob.com
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