How will Santa look like in 2040? Will we still celebrate Christmas at home with family or in the metaverse with friends and celebrities? What kind of presents will we choose and who will deliver them? Steve Wells offers a podcast series on Christmas 2040 dedicated to exploring the future of the tradition. Global Futurist Sylvia Gallusser shares her thoughts on how we will be celebrating the Holidays and Christmas in particular in year 2040.
Listen to the podcast episode here.
First of all, it’s exciting to notice how the Holiday season correlates with futures thinking and how some Christmas concepts include foresight such as:
- Advent. Advent is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas Eve, symbolizing Christ’s Nativity. Practices associated with Advent include keeping an Advent calendar, lighting an Advent wreath, visiting a Christmas market, erecting a Christmas tree… All these activities are designed to help you to wait while looking forward!
- The Ghost of Christmas Future from Charles Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol. Like the Future itself, the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” is unknown, mysterious, and silent. What’s interesting to notice is that the Spirit shows Scrooge that his future is not set in stone or written on his gravestone but can be changed – by changing his actions in the present. This resonates with the futures thinking approach which is not about predicting one future and being deterministic about it, but on the opposite about preparing for the future and taking action!
Traditions and celebrations are impacted by the changes we identify in the future of the home, the future of family and social interaction, the future of consumption and retail, the future of spirituality. As we imagined what our future Holiday celebrations could look like, with a focus on Christmas in particular (which is still celebrated by 2 billion people worldwide), we envisioned four alternate scenarios.
- Outsourced Christmas: The first one, which is closer to a Growth scenario is about Outsourcing Christmas to have it automated and optimized. Amazon Santa makes the perfect gift choice for us based on our personal data and helps us pick out the best presents for our loved ones. On Christmas Eve, drones come down our chimney to deliver presents, with an articulated Santa’s arm. Technology is a facilitator. Our home assistant delivers the perfect Christmas dinner. Even our Christmas tree is easy to maintain: thanks to IoT, we can remotely adjust heating, watering, and air quality to save needles from falling. Of course, it includes programmable Christmas decorations.
- Escape Christmas: This second scenario illustrates a Decline in the importance of cultural and religious tradition. We rely on a frictionless Christmas app to manage our guest list, provide easy food options, and organize logistics, so that we don’t mentally burden ourselves as the Holiday season approaches. We still enjoy Christmas, but it has crumbled mostly into entertainment and a commercial celebration. We prefer to meet with friends than family, or to watch an immersive VR show or metaverse fireworks. We celebrate in extended reality, with half of the guests in person and half of them in their own settings. Sometimes we have nostalgia and we replay Christmas of the past show. But mainly, the family, human, and spiritual component is eroding.
- Snowbound Christmas: This tradition-bound Christmas is more of a Constraint scenario. The Climate change crisis will translate into winter storms, potentially power outages in areas with inadequate infrastructure. But Christmas will still be Christmas, the Holiday spirit will remain, we will still meet in person, we need human connections and contacts. In a technology-driven world, Christmas has become one of the few areas in which we still yearn for real-life interaction with other human beings (what we at Silicon Humanism call tech-free bubbles). We still play board games, we still eat and drink too much together (it’s even perhaps the only day of the year on which we still eat meat), and we still fight and hug each other for real!
- Choose Your Own Christmas: This last scenario is a Transformation one. We can select all components “on demand”. The theme can be diverse and transcultural: we click on a button and our smart home, smart walls and appliance, and smart tree adapt to Christmas in Russia, in Mexico or anywhere on Earth or beyond. We can switch to a fantasy, medieval or celebrity Christmas dinner. Thanks to the Internet of Senses, we can digitally touch, smell, and taste things from all over the world. Our guests can be members of our “family by choice”, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, even deceased ancestors whose spirit we bring back to life once a year for this special night. We enjoy inventive 3D-printed food. Christmas is not so much of a home-based celebration anymore. We transpose Christmas to inspiring places: we rejoice on an island in the sun, we dine among the stars at Disney’s Space 220 or in an underwater restaurant, we gather in an anti-gravity shuttle or celebrate on board Virgin Galactic’s space station…
What’s your vision of Christmas and Holidays in 2040? Share with us your future imagery and your artifacts from Christmas 2040!