Dame Esther Rantzen is calling for Christmas to be moved to the summer.
The 80-year-old TV presenter and grandmother has revealed she is refusing to meet up with her family over the festive season – despite government rules allowing for three households to bubble between 23 and 27 December – to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
Rantzen wrote in the Daily Mail: “The best gift we can offer our families this Christmas is to refuse to meet them. That’s what I’ve done, and although it wasn’t easy, I believe it’s time for us older people to be brave and firm, and tell our families to stay away.
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“They know we love and miss them, but let’s prove it by agreeing to put Christmas off for six months.”
The founder of Silverline, a helpline for elderly people who feel isolated, believes non-religious Christmas celebrations should be postponed until the summer solstice on Monday 21 June and the government should make it a bank holiday.
And she is calling for Christmas traditions such as pantomimes that have been cancelled this year due to COVID-19 to simply be delayed until the summer.
Rantzen said: “Why don’t we decide to delay the fun, not extinguish it?”
She pointed out that 25 December is not the actual date that Jesus was born, but was chosen in the fourth century to coincide with pagan festivals and bring cheer during the short winter days.
Rantzen said: “So, bishops and churchmen, this year, why not encourage us to attend virtual, streamed church services? And give us permission to postpone our secular celebrations for six months until the summer solstice.
“June 21 is the summer solstice, and as it’s a Monday next year, let the government declare a bank holiday.”
Rantzen turned 80 in June this year and is already planning a belated birthday party in June 2021.
But she previously revealed she had already had several “hysterical” birthday celebrations over Zoom including one with around 60 of her former That's Life! colleagues "saying terribly rude things about me".
Rantzen lives with her eldest daughter Emily, who has ME, and has five grandchildren by her daughter Rebecca and son Joshua.
Watch: Esther Rantzen on the importance of visiting people in care homes