Now and then
Were households allowed to mix at Christmas during the plague? Samuel Pepys’s diary entry for 25 December 1665:
‘To church in the morning, and there saw a wedding… which I have not seen many a day; and the young people so merry one with another, and strange to see what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition… thence to my Lord Bruncker’s by invitation and dined there…’
Do divorces really increase thanks to Christmas? Divorce lawyers often say they’re especially busy after Christmas, as couples seek to untie the knot after a fractious time. But since the HM Courts and Tribunal Service launched its online service it’s been possible to track divorce applications over the festive season. In 2018:
— 13 couples filled out the electronic form on Christmas Day itself.
— 23 did so on Boxing Day.
— But New Year provoked 77.
— In all, there were 455 applications between Christmas Eve and New Year.
— There were 107,600 divorces in England and Wales in 2019, an average of 294 a day — although not everyone uses the online service.
Business as usual
How many countries have a public holiday on 25 December?
— Approximately 150 of the world’s nations will have an official day off on Christmas Day.
— Those that won’t: Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Gulf states, Turkey, Israel, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, all Central Asian states, Mongolia, China, Japan, Bhutan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
— Egypt, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia will celebrate Christmas on 7 January.
When was the economy last as small as it will be this Christmas?
— In raw size, adjusted for the inflation, the UK economy was last the size it is now during the rapid economic slide during the spring. Before that, you have to go back to June 2014.
— In terms of GDP per head, however, you have to go back to the first quarter of 2010.
— But that was during a recovery phase from the 2008/09 recession. It had been higher.
— Real GDP per head is now no higher than it was in the third quarter of 2004.
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