So you’re planning a Passover or Easter celebration, trying your best to keep it safe. Nice! We extend our virtual hand in social-distancing appreciation. If you’re wondering how to make your event a success this year, you’re not alone. The foodie blogsphere has been buzzing with conversations about this, all centered around the topic of how to celebrate the upcoming holidays wisely and safely. It’s an interesting subject, since rhetorically Passover and Easter celebrations depend almost entirely on the idea of community, namely the community meal. Though it’s tempting to look at this solely through a religious lens, focusing on the Judeo-Christian tradition in particular, ancient pagan festivals of spring, new life, and fertility also shared the same concept.
The upshot is that for millennia, human beings have celebrated spring, often considering it sacred.
The traditional celebration consists of a large meal with plenty of guests. For many of us, preserving this tradition now takes on a certain sense of surreal, emotional urgency—one more thing that must somehow, someway, be preserved even in the face of social-distancing, lockdowns, quarantines, masks, and gloves. So then, how should we celebrate?
First, stay home, of course. Second, keep your celebration limited to a small number of people, ideally the same folks you’ve been around the past few weeks.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Here are some ideas.
Keep the meal simple. Instead of the traditional 4-5 courses that occur through the reading of the Haggadah, choose simple recipes—grill and reduce the number of dishes for the entire seder. Think steak instead of brisket, and kosher hot dogs and matzo pizza on the grill with matzo ball soup. Yum!
Have plenty of matzo. Make sure you have enough matzo (not stockpiling, though, because you don’t want this after Passover ends), since there are many dishes you can make with plain matzo.
Keep your sense of humor throughout. While the seder is a combination of joy and a celebration of freedom, consider opportunities for laughter and remember that this hopefully will not be the precedent for future seders. (Try a virtual hiding of the afikoman for the younger members of the family.)
Host a virtual seder. Download and share the same Haggadah with all participants, and designate an e-Moses to lead the virtual seder. Decide who will play which part. Practice with your virtual platform ahead of time to reduce frustration. Don’t skimp on the wine and substitute wherever you normally would have had grape juice. And finally, don’t cry when you get to the four questions, e.g, “Why is this night different from all others?” It’s a great opportunity to laugh and stay positive together.
Most of all, enjoy. Finally, remember to celebrate the unique freedom this year’s seder represents. This will help put COVID-19 into perspective when one compares it to the Jews wandering for 40 years!
Keep the meal simple. Yes, same advice as above. The bottom line: Take some pressure off yourself this year by choosing simple recipes and reducing the number of dishes on your Easter table.
Visit shut-ins online. For many people, delivering Easter lilies and Easter meal leftovers to friends and neighbors who can’t make it to church is a yearly tradition. This year, visit them online. (Pro tip: Many older folks can use Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom too! If they don’t know how, call and walk them through it.) Those who can’t get out would be delighted by the visit, even if it’s online.
Stream a service. Many churches have turned to streaming Sunday services on their websites and Facebook pages. Since they’ve had a few weeks to practice, plenty now have it down. Almost every church will have its own way of broadcasting services, so reaching out to your local church is the best way to learn more. If your church isn’t streaming its Easter service, no doubt it can help you find another that will.
Start seeds. Easter, like spring, is all about rebirth and new life. Starting seeds this time of year, especially with the help of little ones in your home, is a great way to celebrate the season.
Don’t forget the Easter egg hunt, even if you don’t have eggs. This year there are plenty of unique ways to take part in community Easter egg hunts with social distancing in mind, like this cool one in the Enfield/Mascoma area. All the stores out of eggs? Use your craft supplies and creativity to make handmade eggs at home. (Great way to pass the time when spending a lot of time at home with children.)
Can’t find an Easter egg hunt in your area? Create one of your own! Reach out to your neighbors (by phone or online, of course) and design one. The basics:
- Advertise on social media that every household makes an egg out of paper or whatever material is available. Break out the Sharpies, markers, glitter, paints, or anything else to make it fun.
- Hang in visible windows so anyone can see.
- On a designated day have children with families drive or walk around (with social distancing in mind) and see how many everyone counts.
Have fun. More than anything, treasure the season and the time at home with loved ones. Be sure to share this message with the children in the house, who are certainly anxious about their world these days.
This is just a handful of suggestions, of course. There are plenty of other good ones out there. Heard of any others? Let us know! We’d love to hear about it. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, have a safe and healthy holiday season.
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