When December rolled around, nobody went crazy, which was very unusual. The reason was simple: Christmas had finally been banned, in order to give everyone a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays without stressing about doubling their consumption rate for every product available.
At first the economy suffered. Moody’s downgraded the credit rating of the entire EU to A- with a negative outlook. Coca Cola’s stock was particularly hard-hit, their Christmas trucks rusting in their garages. The factories, which had been retooled to produce useless Christmas junk, stood silent in the silently falling snow. Amazon grew by only 10% that month, which was a step back from the exponential growth experienced in years past. People selling Christmas trees on the streets had to find other jobs – significantly warmer than the previous ones.
The streets of EU capitals were only moderately full. Shoppers did not rush around, stores had normal opening hours and there were no fights breaking out over the last Playstation or Xbox on stock. A planned left-wing protest in Hamburg fizzled out because the protesters could not inconvenience anyone doing their last-minute shopping. The Internet traffic fell slightly, since bloggers and online journalists had no reason to write vitriolic blog posts and satirical articles about Christmas consumerism.
Christmas markets did, however, survive. They just rebranded themselves as “Winter markets” and the mulled wine kept flowing, much to everyone’s enjoyment. Overall, this was a smart move – as the US painfully learned in the twenties, you could ban a lot of things and people would just grumble, but if you ban any form of intoxication, then the whole nation would actively start disobeying the law. By letting alcohol flow freely, the EU government realised it could make its citizens swallow other repressive measures, pun intended.
Eurosceptic groups were having a field day, claiming that traditional Christian values were slowly being whittled away. Marine Le Pen went on record saying that if Christmas was not reinstated soon and the Church strengthened, this would pave the way for gay marriages in France and soon after, everyone would start marrying their toasters, bathtubs, and goats. Very few people were surprised when this turned out not to be the case. Luckily, protests were not as widespread and violent as was expected, due to the hurricane passing over the Old Continent and ripping protest banners out of freezing neo-conservative hands. Nigel Farage blamed the extreme weather on the European Commission, while still refusing to believe in any scientific evidence for climate change.
This would pave the way for gay marriages and soon after, everyone would start marrying their toasters, bathtubs, and goats.
When the new year rolled around, however, the hidden benefits of the scheme came into being. Not a single person had decorated their house like some sort of Christmas airport landing strip and this translated into some serious energy conservation. Putin was chagrined, since he could not play his usual energy brinkmanship politics in winter. Nobody seemed to care much about Russian gas, which anyway smelled of vodka and only burned in the absence of decadent Western protest punk music. Ukraine finally joined the EU, mostly because Yanukovich didn’t want to give out so much money for Christmas presents to all the Ukranian oligarchs supporting him and found the idea of banning Christmas great. Due to the extreme reduction of energy consumption, most of Europe could finally shut down their nuclear power plants and power itself on wind, solar energy, and book burnings of 100 Shades of Gray (copies numbered in the billions and nobody wanted to buy the sequel). Only France decided to keep nuclear power and instead used the money to clean up Paris and to build a second Eiffel tower to accommodate the tourist influx. Cleaning up the city cost roughly twice more than building the second Tour Eiffel.
The first few years it was weird to have no Christmas, but Europeans got used to it. The GDP bounced back, because Europe’s population does not clog all the land and air routes on ill-planned vacations all at the same time anymore. Businesses do not close for weeks at a time, and workers take more vacations in summer, when one can actually enjoy going out for an ill-advised pub tour. Another effect is that the EU is finally on track to meet the 2020 Carbon quota, due to increased CO2 sequestration from all the living Christmas trees and less industrial pollution from manufacturing tacky Christmas decoration. Now we can all kick back, stop feeling so guilty about destroying the climate for generations to come and buy that cheap Ryanair ticket to Spanish Mallorca for a vacation, the most significant memory of which would be the hangover on the return flight. And the vacation doesn’t even have to take place in winter, since we can choose when to take a long vacation.
Obesity levels have also gone down by a surprising amount. Not having a triple Christmas dinner has surprisingly translated to people having a lower BMI. Of course, this was somewhat counteracted by people having less stress and less running around the city to get that special shade of red Christmas present wrapping. The number of suicide attempts has dropped significantly, because people don’t have to dread facing their whole families around the Christmas table and discussing their going-nowhere career plans. Single people everywhere are currently petitioning the European Parliament to ban Valentine’s day as well, but the chocolate and roses lobby in Brussels is hard at work opposing the measure.
In light of these developments, Moody’s and S&P finally decided to give up on their standard school-grade system and create a new credit rating category especially for Europe, which includes categories like “Germany’s just won the world cup, buy as much as you can”, “Strikes in France; no significant economic shake-ups expected” and “Berlusconni elected again, for the love of God, sell!”.
There have been talks about banning Ramadan in Europe as well, but the only people that publicly really care about the holiday are right-wing extremists; the Muslims are happy to celebrate this in the privacy of their own homes and go to work during daytime. Of course, in anticipation of the end-of-Ramadan Eid celebration strict guidelines have been set in place governing how olive oil and shawarma should be served. The Daily Mail, in rare solidarity with ethnic minorities, has published articles attacking the shawarma lobby in Strasbourg.
All in all, banning Christmas was a very controversial decision that has worked out for the best. Europe is now a happy, physically fit, CO2 neutral continent, still disunited in diversity and still bureaucratic to the brim. Journalists and satirists are looking forward to the next monumental decision taken by the head EU honchos, which while perhaps not very practical, will definitely be entertaining.