Have Yourself a Merry Digital Christmas

Every year, the holiday season is magical. Depending on where you’re from in Europe, you’ll exchange gifts on Christmas Eve or first thing in the morning on Christmas Day. You’ll tuck into cod, carp, goose or turkey, and you might mark the moment with either a cheering glass of Glühwein or a glass of champagne. One thing, however, is consistent across the continent – ‘tis the season for family, friends and customs. But in the 21st century, even this most traditional of festivities is being transformed by technology.      

Finding the perfect gift for loved ones is always tricky, but the advent of internet has definitely made life easier. This year, it’s predicted over 50% of German, French and British Christmas shoppers will hop online to make their seasonal purchases. Across the EU, more than 65% of citizens have shopped online at some point and this trend is on the rise, showing that the European Commission’s pledge to remove barriers to ecommerce is quite literally promising to pay off.

Technology has also livened up some our favourite seasonal customs. The world’s largest ever Secret Santa gift exchange – with over 80,000 givers-and-receivers – was an online event. The classic Christmas countdown calendar has gone digital, with apps galore to get the excitement building. And on Christmas Eve, little ones can follow Santa’s progress across the world thanks to the NORAD Tracks Santa app – a tradition which has evolved over 6 decades from a newspaper ad to its current digital format.

Even when the festive season is tinged with a touch of sadness, with some family members and friends scattered far and wide, high-speed broadband, expanded connectivity and tools like Skype mean special moments can still be shared in real-time with your nearest and dearest. If the EU delivers on its promise of accessible, affordable and ubiquitous connectivity, this could become a gift for every European to enjoy. And if we remain true to relying on competition to foster innovation, you can already start drawing up your wish list for the next range of ingenious digital goods and services for Santa to put under your tree. A very modern Christmas means a blend of old and new – where traditions meet technology and the best of both defines the season. Here’s to carrying that spirit through into the New Year, for a digitally-ready Europe in 2016. Happy holidays to you and yours from the whole Microsoft EU Policy team!

Do you think technology is changing the holidays for the better? We’re sharing #tech4Xmas facts and stats on our Twitter page over the next few days – let us know what you think!

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