By Viktor Andersson & Lydia Johansson Malm
Ah, the holidays are finally upon us! We’re decorating the apartment, going to Christmas concerts, Lussegasques, Glöggmys and making snow angels as if our lives depended on it. Yet, in our christmassy haze, it is easy to forget that the festivities are not fine and dandy for everyone. Yes, we’re talking about the big L: Loneliness.
For a lot of people the Christmas spirit instead comes with a sense of dread. The phone may stop buzzing and leave you with nothing but an empty space. Whether you are in a foreign country and your family is on the other side of the globe, or the invites just don’t come your way, loneliness in all forms can be a sorrowful companion. The sense of aloneness is often an embarrassing condition, but at the same time a seldom discussed topic in today’s more self-obsessed world. Even if solitude is by choice, not celebrating with near and dear ones is still frowned upon.
How is this connected to a broader picture? After all, we are development students. Well, social isolation may be a public health problem. A report claims it to be far more dangerous for your health to be lonely than to smoke fifteen cigarettes a day or not working out at all. Woah! People in Sweden are often branded “The loneliest people in the world”. According to a study, 300.000 Swedes are socially isolated year round. It can only be assumed this feeling is enhanced during the holidays, with about 5% of the Swedish population celebrating Christmas on their own. The phenomena seems to be global too. It was recently reported that more than 200.000 Brits over the age of 65 are spending Christmas alone this year. For those who have recently lost their spouses, the holidays are especially challenging. The study claims 170.000 elderly are to celebrate their first Christmas since the death of their life partner.
Of course, it is not only older people that are alone in December. Acknowledging this, we have browsed the internet on tips what to do on your own this holiday.
- Workout! Plenty of gyms have extra classes during the weekend, which will allow you to get out, meet some people and clear your head. Or just plug your headphones in and do your own thing. If in Uppsala, Friskis&Svettis Väderkvarn has free entrance on the 24th.
- Volunteer! For example Jul i Gemenskap is a three day celebration in Immanuelskyrkan in Stockholm, where anyone can help. Don’t feel like working? The event is open for everyone who wants to come and celebrate Christmas together. If you’re in Uppsala, Uplands nation hosts a celebration which you can help run by volunteering.
- Make it your own! Redefine the holiday to your liking and remember that there is no blueprint for Christmas. If you want to lay on the couch and watch 500 Days of Summer, go ahead. Don’t forget about the snacks! Some seasonal flavors to get you started are Dumle caramel cranberry, Cheese snowballs and Lydia’s all time favorite Gingerbread filmjölk (yuck).
- Go to church! Even if you are not religious, there is no other place to get into the spirit (or feel the true meaning of Christmas) like church. Concerts, services, nativity plays — the schedule is jam-packed with activities. Here’s this year’s schedule for Svenska Kyrkan Uppsala.
- It’s totally okay to skip the ham and meatballs, but why not make a super advanced gingerbread house instead? Providing the following list of “31 Amazing Gingerbread House Ideas”, we wish you good luck. Please send us photos if your attempt is successful.
- Finish your assignments, study some extra for the January exam, start writing that article for Uttryck you told yourself you were gonna do months ago. Catching up on all that life stuff will allow you to wake up the next day with the feeling of being ahead of the rest of the world.
Working out, volunteering, binge watching all six seasons of Gossip Girl- we all have different perspectives on what Christmas is and what it brings. You certainly don’t have to get up and make a sweet and steamy pot of mannagrynsgröt, but we don’t want to scare you off. A good routine really can get the holiday spirit going. In the end, it is you who have the final decision on how to celebrate, but as you do, don’t forget about those around you. Give an extra thought to the people feeling lonely over the holidays. Make that call to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Break the silence by making someone else’s phone buzz. Go grab that glögg and catch up. It can all be pretty simple.
And, if you’re one of many who’s spending Christmas alone this year, remember: You’re not the only one. Nothing’s wrong with you. And after all, tomorrow is another day.
From all of us at Uttryck to all of you, happy holidays!
Cover photo: Mourad Saadi
Viktor Andersson is studying the bachelor program in Peace and Development. His favorite things include Lydia, liquorice, lasagna, llamas and Lisztomania. His best vacation memory was spending four awesome nights on a raft in Värmland.
Lydia Johansson Malm is a student of the Peace and Development Bachelor Program. She likes all things country, Christmas, cleaning and cold brew. Her worst vacation ever consisted of four awful nights on a raft in Värmland.