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How climate change has altered Christmas

How climate change has altered Christmas

While Hollywood's depiction of a white Christmas might be the northern hemisphere ideal, for many around the world the holiday is celebrated in very different weather. But, climate change is threatening both winter wonderlands and warmer Christmas traditions.

Whether it's decorating the Christmas tree with sparkly lights, building a snowman or carolling to your heart's content, we all have our favourite holiday traditions.

In the Netherlands, where I grew up, a popular tradition around Christmas is to put on your skates and take to the country's frozen ponds, canals and rivers. When it freezes, young and old head onto the ice. As my father says, "Skating is in our blood."

"You'll see very young children holding onto chairs as they scrabble along, as old people skate by hand-in-hand," he says, painting a verbal picture of a beautiful wintery landscape. "It's a truly magical scene."

Keen skaters used to enter the Elfstedentocht, which translates to the "eleven cities tour", an iconic ice skating race covering 200km (120 miles) that passes through 11 cities in the northern province Friesland. It's been 24 years since the last race took place. Climate change is endangering this beloved winter tradition.

When my father was at school he regularly enjoyed "ice days", when schools closed and everyone spent the day skating instead of studying. I only remember one such exhilarating moment during my teenage years.

And it is not just cold-weather holiday traditions that are slowly fading away. Around the world extreme weather caused by climate change and rising temperatures are altering beloved Christmas traditions. In the accounts below, BBC Future speaks to three young people from the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Brazil who share their stories of how the rapidly changing climate is transforming Christmas where they live.


While Hollywood's depiction of a white Christmas might be the northern hemisphere ideal, climate change is threatening both winter wonderlands and warmer Christmas traditions.
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