Disappointed that Easter traditions won’t be the same under social distancing? Join Josie Ortega in brainstorming new twists on a joyful Easter celebration.
Easter Traditions with Social Distancing: New Ways to Celebrate
This year is unlike any in living memory. All of us are adjusting old routines and creating new ones to figure out what works during this strange time of COVID-19, and the same goes for celebrating holidays! As we reinvent our beloved Easter traditions to work for us amid a global pandemic, along the way we’re sure to find new ways to celebrate and cultivate hope.
With kids at home, this year we may have more time to dive into traditional Lenten and Easter activities like gardening, baking, and spring cleaning. Count it for science, math, and home economics class!
What are our family’s favorite Easter traditions? It’s worth taking some time to think through how we can adapt this year so that we’re not blindsided by disappointment. Don’t get me wrong: I still may find myself sitting on the kitchen floor, crying among the chocolate bunnies at midnight before Easter Sunday. But I won’t be shocked when it happens.
Here’s my running list of beloved Easter traditions, with their new social-distancing twists!
Old Tradition: Easter Baskets.
Let’s go ahead and go bonkers with Easter baskets, because, hey, we’ve got time. Click for my suggestions for basket fillers, both tried and true as well as unexpected.
New Easter Tradition with Social Distancing:
- This year, let’s throw a roll of toilet paper into the adult basket and let our imaginations run wild with ideas for hilarious, desperate, hysterical goodies for spouses or other housebound loved ones. Also, pay more attention to filling baskets with games and outdoor activities for the family to enjoy together.
- We can call or click around to find a local shop that’s able to curate a basket to pick up, or purchase candy from a neighborhood spot. Support local biz, outsource the work. A win for everyone!
- Stick Easter greetings in the mail. I’m certain that each one of us is offering home school art lessons of unparalleled quality—or we’ve hired Mo Willems—so let’s put those markers and pastel watercolors to good use and create encouraging notes for grandparents, family and friends, teachers, and health workers. (By the way: The latest study I saw found that coronavirus can linger on cardboard for 24 hours—a shorter time than other surfaces like plastic and metal—which means that packages and mail should be relatively safe, provided the mail carrier follows CDC guidelines.)
Old Tradition: Dyeing Easter Eggs.
Again, we may have the space and bandwidth this year to go above and beyond in this department. No rush!
We might attempt another elaborate style of decoration:
- In the past, we’ve made Mexican cascarones to break on Papa’s head on Easter morning.
- Experiment with natural dyes,
- Or marbling,
- Or decorate elaborate Ukrainian pysanky, with gorgeous symbolic images.
But also: if you suspect that attempting a major project with children, one that’s loaded with high expectations and nostalgia, will push you over the edge . . . just forget it. Let it go! Or merely use the no-frills kit from the grocery store and call it a day. Or, do the basic set with the kids, and satisfy your own artistic urges with the elaborate project, solo. Godspeed.
Old Tradition: Easter Egg Hunt.
It will still be fun to do a small-scale family or household-only egg hunt. The more popular option in our house last year was to switch things around and have the kids hide eggs for parents to find. Still, if a family is used to a large, festive cousin or community-wide egg hunt, losing that event may feel especially sad this year.
- Reverse Easter egg hunt! One way to do it: Hop in the car (bunny pun intended), and race around to friends’ homes to graffiti a large, beautiful, bold-patterned chalk Easter egg on the sidewalk out front. Leave it as a surprise for them to discover, or text with selfies and pics of your family wildly dancing around outside their house.
- Nature hunt. With a dot of paint in each section of the egg carton, enjoy a beautiful family hike, searching for a petal or leaf or something to match each color.
Old Tradition: Holy Week.
The church’s commemoration of Jesus’ last days takes the tone of somber, sorrowful remembering before the burst of celebration on Easter Sunday. Beginning the week before on Palm Sunday, we move through the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday when Jesus was crucified and buried . . . and then the long, silent waiting of Holy Saturday.
Churches still will commemorate these events in various socially distanced ways this year, whether via online services, or perhaps Stations of the Cross that one can walk through alone, at a safe distance from others.
I don’t need to explain that this year, feelings of isolation, lament, and sorrow are easily accessible for many of us. And as the psychologists would tell us, it’s a healthy practice to feel our feelings rather than to repress them. Holy Week offers time and space to do this: to name what we’re feeling, sit with it and let the emotional waves wash over and through us.
- The week before Easter is a good time to be quiet; perhaps to write out a prayer of lament, of anger, of arguing with the Divine. We can take some time off from home school or work or whatever other pressures, if possible, and know that it’s OK to feel whatever we’re feeling these days.
- Our kids may need space for this as well. They may need to hear from us that there’s no right or wrong way to feel right now. Happy about no school, sad about it, a mix of both. None of us have ever done this before!
- Many Christians fast, or abstain from meat, or plan simple meals during these days. (Don’t worry, the Easter feast is coming!) In particular, Holy Saturday is a long, quiet day of waiting. My pastor recommended spending that evening listening to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
Although we feel lonely at times, we are not alone. And as the gospel accounts portray, Jesus himself experienced the feelings of loneliness, desperation, and sorrow. These emotions aren’t new, but our current circumstances cause us to experience them in a poignant, different way.
Old Traditions: Easter Parade and Easter Brunch
New York City’s Easter Parade evolved from the delightful people-watching of wealthy families in their fanciest garb heading to church on 5th Avenue, and it reflects the more widespread tradition of wearing new clothes for Easter. Another more common modern-day way to show off our Easter finest is to enjoy a nice brunch with family. Over the past several years, our family has patronized the same neighborhood restaurant for Easter brunch, a bit of a fancier meal with kids—fresh squeezed OJ for them, outrageously garnished Bloody Marys for us.
- Front porch brunch! Or front yard, balcony, front stoop, what have you. Because all our neighbors and everyone around us is experiencing the same odd social isolation, neighbors may appreciate a chance to stroll by and wave hello, wishing each other Happy Easter. Bonus points if you still get decked out in your #sundayfinest! Or, we could go with our finest loungewear. Bonus Bonus points for ordering catering from a beloved local biz.
- Local photographers have begun to offer affordable “front porch mini photo sessions.” What a good idea, and a sweet way to document this Easter, as well as this unique family time together. May all of us remember the smiles more than the breakdowns!
- Fancy tea time via Zoom. We can inject some pizazz into our family Facetime, Zoom, Google Hangout, or Skype sessions by sending out an invitation to a “formal” Easter tea. Formal may mean church clothes or princess dresses from the costume box. Grandparents are encouraged to wear hats, fancy jewelry, or find something else creative to make this a memorable call. I know that kids (and some grandparents!) can be hit-or-miss with these virtual appointments, and that’s OK. Still, it’s worth planning a little something for this special day when grandparents and other family members may find the isolation of social distancing especially challenging.
Continuing Easter Traditions with Social Distancing: Worship and Celebrate
Easter is the highest holy day in the Christian faith, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Our celebrations share similarities with spring festivals common to all of humanity throughout time and across geography: as we look at the ground, what appeared dead bursts to life! It’s wonder-inducing and worth celebrating with joy.
The new twist: It will look different this year, but Easter will remain a day to enjoy family and friends, church, new life, good food, and the glorious outdoors. Hope springs eternal!
What are your favorite Easter traditions, and how will they look for your family this year, taking social distancing into account? Share in the comments, and get planning using FamilyApp!