Wednesday, August 10

Christmas lights as “therapy” against the covid in Alicante

A balcony with steady warm lights. The next door neighbor with blinking blue lights. The one above with Multicolored lights that change the beat. The outbreak of the pandemic has caused important changes in Spanish society, some relevant and others curious, such as the proliferation of lighting on balconies. In the last two years, although with a higher incidence in 2021, it is increasingly common to see lighted balconies in buildings, especially in the newer ones.

The reasons chosen to illuminate Alicante’s balconies are usually very varied, although garlands of warm, blue and multi-colored tones prevail. | PILAR CORTÉS

It is enough to take a walk through buildings and especially urbanizations of neighborhoods such as the PAU, San Blas, Florida or Albufereta, among others. This “fashion” has explanations for experts. «The pandemic that we are experiencing has limited contact with the family for a long time and has meant the loss of close relatives. It is very possible that these holidays are lived in a very special way due to this circumstance and that this is also demonstrated in the decoration of the interior and exterior of the houses ”, points out Liberto Carratalá, professor at the Department of Sociology I of the University of Alicante, who points out that the “Decoration of streets and balconies fulfills a function of social cohesion”, since “publicly displaying the ornament, in addition to contributing to the generation of a genuinely Christmas atmosphere, defines you as a member of the community involved in maintaining traditions.”

Christmas lights as “therapy” against the covid

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In a similar vein, Esther Medina, also a professor at the Department of Sociology I at the University of Alicante, is shown: «The fact that there are more lights in the streets and outside the houses is very likely not only to make us feel better , but it is a way of communicating, not only our joy of being able to continue sharing life with our families, with our friends and with our own neighborhood, but also, that of informing our spirit to continue doing it, as well as the hope of A better future”. The professor, who participates in the Sociology of Innovation and Social Change research group, explains that this trend “seems to be a indisputable display of survival responsiveness and solidarity that the species and society as a whole have in such adverse and catastrophic situations, despite the enormous consequences of the pandemic and its impact on the lives of all and of society as a whole ”.

Christmas lights as “therapy” against the covid

Both researchers link the increase in lighting in the balconies of the houses to the tendency of municipalities to spend more and more to decorate the cities at Christmas, which leaves the Alicante capital among the cities that spend the most per inhabitant, by investing some 343,000 euros in Christmas lighting, surpassed in this rate by cities such as Vigo and Malaga. “The use of lighting has a strong emotional component and also marketing. Hence, the City Council itself, let us not forget that it is managed by people, promotes actions that, on the one hand, encourage outdoor activities and, on the other, encourage consumption in these highly-marked festivals in order to reactivate the economic activity so damaged after the pandemic “, according to professor Esther Medina, from the UA. For his part, his colleague from the university department, Liberto Carratalá, adds that “the lighting that starts from the institutional initiative has an eminently economic objective”, since it “creates an atmosphere and that helps to boost sales.” However, “there is more,” he adds. In recent years “it seems that the consistories have entered a race to be the one that exhibits more light power in their Christmas decorations”, according to the sociologist, who considers that it is “a question of status, as it happens in the families themselves ».

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Christmas lights as “therapy” against the covid

The Alicante City Council, in this second Christmas marked by the covid pandemic that broke out in 2020, anticipated all the main Spanish capitals, turning on the Christmas lighting on November 18, a month before the big days, with 870 arches and garlands shine with two million LEDs in the city, with the aim of «incentivizing purchases and attracting new visitors as a tourist attraction, seeking once again to boost local commerce with more days to purchase gifts and traditional Christmas objects from these such special dates ».

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