Passover and Easter are traditionally festive times of getting together with family. But with bans on large gatherings and stay-at-home orders the norm these days, extended families likely won’t be congregating or attending services during these two religious holidays.
They can still be special, although different, while we’re staying apart.
First, let’s review the basics: It’s not safe for people to assemble in large numbers, especially for older folks who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
You might think that because you’ve isolated yourself for several weeks now and so have extended family members, and nobody’s showing signs of being sick, it’s reasonable for everyone to safely gather in one place. This just isn’t the case.
Even though you may want to visit grandma now, and maybe grandma has been complaining about being isolated at home for weeks, it’s not a good idea. Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Having said that, it’s important to stay connected while staying away from friends and family who don’t live in your home.
How? Embrace technology to be together while apart. Call, video chat or use social media. Watch livestream Easter services and opt for virtual family meetups. Try FaceTime, Zoom, Join.Me, Google Hangout and the Houseparty app. Be sure to practice with the technology beforehand.
It’s quite possible to tune into a broadcast service from your local church or diocese. If you can, try out the technology beforehand if there’s something broadcast earlier in the week.
Many churches also will be holding virtual services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
Easter also is a traditional time to share sweets and prepare for a visit from The Easter Bunny. This year get creative. Decorate eggs. Hold family-only egg hunts in the back yard or contribute to an egg hunt in your neighborhood by putting images of colored eggs or stuffed rabbits in your windows. Prepare dishes that your relatives generally bring to share, like that coconut-coated rabbit cake or green-bean casserole.
Get dressed up and set up a camera in front of your house; take family Easter photos with your nice clothes on and share them with family members.
Do a virtual egg hunt—hide things in the room and have viewers guess where they are.
Passover is observed through April 16. Similarly, you can hold a virtual Seder meal with family. It’s a little different, as there are more roles to represent and meals traditionally are specific and complex. Here are a few suggestions from recent stories in the news:
The more people follow the advice of health experts on preventing the spread of COVID-19, the faster we can get back to normal.
Here are additional tips for social distancing from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Follow guidance from authorities where you live.
- Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces, such a friend’s house, parks, restaurants, shops or any other place. This advice applies to people of any age, including teens and younger adults. Children shouldn’t have in-person playdates while school is out.
- If you need to shop for food or medicine at the grocery store or pharmacy, stay at least 6 feet away from others. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, including when you have to go out in public.
- If possible, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
Sophia Tolliver is a primary care physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and an assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.