Easter has always been one of my favourite holidays. Not just because it's right around my birthday (shout out to all the Aries out there). I also love it because it typically means that my entire family comes over. Plus, my competitive childhood self was obsessed with winning the Easter egg hunts (again, Aries). But, this year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, my holiday will look a little different.
I'm not alone. Shelter in place and social distancing rules mean families that don't already live together can't share a meal together. Many churches have had to stop holding in-person services. The White House cancelled its traditional Easter egg roll due to the pandemic. For many families, dying eggs might be on hold this year, since eggs prices have shot up due to the increase in demand from people stocking up during quarantine.
But all that doesn't mean Easter is cancelled for 2020. People are finding creative ways to continue to celebrate and connect with their families and loved ones during this time, despite the roadblocks.
Some places of worship, for instance, are considering holding "drive-in" services. "While most churches have broadcast services online for a few weeks now, I've heard of many Easter services that will be held in church parking lots with members able to see one another in their respective vehicles while they listen to a set radio station to hear the service," says Dan DeWitt, PhD, director of the Center for Public Christianity and Apologetics at Cedarville University. "Some churches have advertised that their stage will be set up on top of a building visible from the parking lot where the worship band and pastor will be amplified for anyone in a close proximity to hear."
Others will hold their services online using platforms like Facebook, as they've been doing for the past several weeks. This method also allows congregants a sense of community that they may be missing. "It’s nice to see the Facebook comments other people are posting in reaction to what the pastor is saying," Bethany Burrell, 26, of Lincoln, Nebraska, previously told Refinery29. "It’s interesting to see that others are struggling the same ways as you. I’ve been anxious about all of this. But seeing what’s on people's minds as they’re commenting is reassuring. It makes you feel like you’re not alone."
While families that have been cooped up together for the past few weeks are looking forward to Easter baskets and dinner to break up the monotony of their quarantine routine, many others who are apart this year are turning to video conferencing to bridge the distance.
Melanie, 28, has experience with long-distance celebrations. While her parents live in Long Island, where she grew up, Melanie moved to Japan a few years ago to teach, and she's typically away over this holiday. "Usually, we video chat while I open the Easter basket my mom sends me," she says. Although it's not a full-throttle celebration, Melanie enjoys seeing her family's faces.
Many others weren't expecting to be celebrating Easter without their loved ones. Kili, for example, typically spends the holiday with her grandma in Delaware. The 24-year-old makes the trip down from New York City to take her grandmother to church. Then they grab brunch, and later have a small Easter dinner together. Since the spread of COVID-19 began, Kili hasn't been able to see her grandma.
"It's sad," says Kili. "I haven't seen her in so long." As of now, Kili's planning on FaceTiming her grandma post-Easter Sunday service. "Her church will probably stream something, so she'll definitely call me to chat about that."
One tradition that many people are mourning is the Easter egg hunt. Pia Silva, 35, typically puts one on for every kid in her Brooklyn neighbourhood. "I think the whole neighbourhood is bummed that the hunt can’t happen this year, as it really brings people together for the holiday," Pia says. "We are definitely disappointed."
But some celebrators are finding creative solutions, and putting together "virtual" Easter egg hunts. One neighbourhood in New York City has created a Facebook event for their virtual hunt. Organizers are encouraging local participants to "Print out an egg image that the kids (and YOU!) can colour, cut out, and display in your windows at home this weekend. Then next week leading up to Easter everyone can "hunt" for the eggs while on walks through the neighbourhood." Not quite the same as the real thing, but at least there's no dye — or expensive eggs — to worry about.
While no one could have imagined that Easter would come during a viral pandemic, people who celebrate are still trying to spend the day honouring their favourite traditions as best they can. And if video conferencing will be part of your day, might we suggest downloading a festive Zoom background to get into the holiday spirit?
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.