Inside Europe: The inside take on European affairs 23.12.2010 Dec. 23, 2010

from Inside Europe· ·

On this week's program: Christmas cheer in short supply in Ireland - Help for the homeless in Rome - Swiss ski resorts feel the financial freeze - East meets west in Russia for Christmas - Germans get into the gospel groove - Brits sobering up this holiday season - Are Christmas traditions becoming globalized? - Luxury train helps Russians escape the bitter winter - French moving southChristmas cheer in short supply in IrelandIt's set to be a tight Christmas for many in Ireland.The government has introduced drastic austerity measures and unemployment is on the rise. So, many people have cut ...



On this week's program: Christmas cheer in short supply in Ireland - Help for the homeless in Rome - Swiss ski resorts feel the financial freeze - East meets west in Russia for Christmas - Germans get into the gospel groove - Brits sobering up this holiday season - Are Christmas traditions becoming globalized? - Luxury train helps Russians escape the bitter winter - French moving southChristmas cheer in short supply in IrelandIt's set to be a tight Christmas for many in Ireland.The government has introduced drastic austerity measures and unemployment is on the rise. So, many people have cut back on luxuries like shopping sprees and dining out. The knock-on effect is a slump in retail sales and one restaurant closing down every day. Lynsey Kiely reports from Dublin.Help for the homeless in RomeDespite these tough economic times, Christmas remains a time for celebrating - visiting family and friends, opening presents and eating lavish meals.But for those who live on the streets, the festive season is a particularly miserable time. It's freezing cold in most parts of the continent and many facilities are closed, making it even harder to find a warm meal and a warm shower. But for those sleeping rough in Rome, a guide book for homeless people is making their lives just that little bit easier. Kate Hairsine has been finding out more.Swiss ski resorts feel the financial freezeThere's no shortage of snow this year in Europe and that should be good news for alpine resorts across the continent.But skiing is a rather expensive sport and the euro, dollar and pound have all fallen in value. So where does that leave one of the most popular winter sports countries of all - Switzerland? The Swiss Franc is strong. So are Swiss resorts pricing themselves out of the skiers market? Imogen Foulkes reports.Postcard: East meets west in Russia for ChristmasIn Russia, they take the festive season very seriously. As in many other countries, it's a time to buy presents, put up decorations and prepare feasts.But Christmas was only restored in the 1990s after the Soviet Union fell apart. Under communism, religious celebrations were discouraged. Nowadays, Christmas is celebrated in line with the Julian calendar, which means it falls on January 7. In this week's Postcard from Moscow, Karen Percy says the festive season brings an unusual mix of East meets West.Brits sobering up this holiday seasonThey're the binge-drinkers of Europe. But according to new figures, the British are cutting back on the booze this Christmas.The recession, together with a government campaign about healthy living, is helping cut the amount of alcohol consumed in the UK. But it's come at the worst time for Britain's famous pubs. More than 900 closed down last year due to a lack of customers. Nik Martin reports from the heart of the English countryside.Germans get into the gospel grooveMusic is an integral part of the festive season - whether it's hymns, carols, pop music or perhaps gospel music.Over the past few decades, gospel has moved beyond church pews in America. It's now popular around the world. For example, here in Germany, there are around 3,000 gospel choirs and they're in high demand during the Christmas season. They perform at church services and concerts all over the country. Leah McDonnell has been checking out Berlin's gospel scene to find out more.Are Christmas traditions becoming globalized?They say old habits die hard. But at times, it seems that traditional ways of celebrating Christmas are falling victim to a globalized approach.Despite Europe's varied cultural heritage, for example, you seem to see the same Christmas trimmings throughout the continent - whether it's the decorations on show or the presents being given. Our reporter in Berlin, Lavinia Pitu, has been visiting some of her friends who come from different countries. And she's been finding out whether they've preserved any of their Christmas traditions from home.Luxury train helps Russians escape the bitter winterAt this time of year in Russia, temperatures of minus 20 degrees are the rule rather than the exception.So it's probably no surprise that Russians - especially those with a bit of cash - are eager to head to somewhere warm for the holiday season. And they no longer have to catch a plane to do that. A train now travels from Moscow to the French city of Nice on the Cote d'Azur. It's a journey that takes them through seven countries, but it's not cheap. Mareike Aden boarded the train in Moscow and made the 3,300-kilometer long journey.French moving southThe Russians aren't the only ones heading to the south of France. So, too, are the French themselves.The cold, snowy weather this year has underscored the great climate divide in France between the miserable icy north and the sunny, T-shirt wearing south. And as John Laurenson reports from Paris, many French people living above the Loire River are moving south, en masse.