IN IMAGES, IN PICTURES – For the second year in a row, the billions of people celebrating Christmas have had to adapt to the evolution of the pandemic.
Several billion people celebrated Christmas this Saturday. Festivities hampered for the second year in a row by the Covid-19 pandemic. The highly contagious Omicron variant has notably resulted in the cancellation and delay of thousands of flights over the weekend, preventing families from meeting on time.
François calls to fight against « withdrawal into oneself »
Pope Francis’ urbi et orbi blessing began around noon in front of the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. François called for « dialogue« In the face of the temptation of »withdrawal»During his traditional Christmas message.
The 85-year-old Argentine pontiff presided over Christmas mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Friday evening in front of some 2,000 masked people, a ceremony celebrated in several languages in the presence of representatives of other Christian denominations.
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Mass in Bethlehem
In Bethlehem, a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank, several hundred people gathered, despite the cold, in Manger Square to follow a parade of Palestinian scouts.
Airlines had to cancel more than 5,600 flights around the world this weekend, nearly a quarter of which were linked to the United States, while thousands more were delayed. Many staff members (pilots, hostesses …) have been placed in quarantine after being exposed to the virus.
Millions of Americans have nevertheless crisscrossed their country, although the Omicron wave already exceeds the peak of the Delta variant, with 171,000 daily cases on average over seven days, and hospitals are saturated.
The surge in infections put a chill on the festivities. Gatherings are generally easier than in 2020 even though the Netherlands is confined, Broadway canceled Christmas shows in New York and Spain and Greece reintroduced the mandatory mask outside.
«Fragment of hope»
Most Australians can travel to their country again, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, reinforcing the Christmas spirit in a country which is yet experiencing a record number of contaminations. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney (South East) Anthony Fisher greeted in his Christmas message the « moving scenes of people ending up in airports after months of separation».
The Canadian Minister of Transport had given the green light to the crew of Santa Claus. Same thoughtfulness on the Australian side: « Our air traffic controllers will guide Santa Claus safely in Australian airspace, » said the Air Safety Authority. In Brazil, a Santa Claus arrived by helicopter distributed food packages to the inhabitants of the favela of Penha, in Rio de Janeiro (south-east).
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