COVID-19 impacts religious holidays around community

COVID-19 has affected many people across the globe, including those who celebrate religious holidays. Because of this, people have had to work around these difficulties.

**Virus-free...** *Jayden Schleppy, son of Brandy Schmell, enjoys his chocolate bunny this sunny Easter morning in 2019.* 

*Photo by Brandy Schmell*

**Virus-free…** *Jayden Schleppy, son of Brandy Schmell, enjoys his chocolate bunny this sunny Easter morning in 2019.* *Photo by Brandy Schmell*

By following COVID-19 regulations and restrictions, religious groups are celebrating at home, virtually or in places of worship across the nation to practice their religion during the 2021 spring holidays.
With COVID-19 surging through the nation, gatherings are regularly shut down. Though this issue was more prevalent in 2020, April’s religious traditions and those who celebrate are still being affected.
With townships experiencing shutdowns across the nation, religious ceremonies have had to adapt to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Although many social distancing regulations in 2021are more lenient than the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends that people do not gather in large quantities in a secured space.
Due to COVID-19, spring holidays such as Easter and Passover have posed challenges for religious celebrators this year. Experiences range from virtual gatherings to outside gatherings to maybe not gathering at all.
“The pandemic has definitely impacted how I celebrate. Before the pandemic, I would begin Lent by going to church on Ash Wednesday,” Learning and Development specialist Mike Berrios said. “I was unable to do that this year. It has also affected me getting together with family.”
In the past year, the CDC has begun to lift COVID-19 restrictions. According to Project Manager Jay Berrios, they have been less strict than last year.
“Last year’s Easter was really affected because the pandemic happened right in the middle of Lent,” Berrios said. “All family gatherings had to be canceled, and what was supposed to be a huge Easter feast became me and my immediate family eating pizza.”
Going out on Easter is a commonplace tradition for many. Berrios experienced differences in yearly traditions too.
“Each year we go out to eat or host dinner for Easter. We aren’t doing any of that this year.” Berrios said. “These [changes] make me feel disconnected from my church.”
For other families, these gatherings are done virtually. For senior Hunter Angst, his experiences feel like a more “rough and watered-down” version of Passover.
“I’ve always enjoyed seeing my cousins every time. Not being able to see them now just makes it saddening,” Angst said. “I’ve absolutely enjoyed Passover, but not being able to celebrate it the way we always did it, that’s a bit rough.”
Giant cashier Denise Suber attends church with some slight precaution.
“We now have little sealed cups and communion wafers that we pick up before going into the service. Before we would pass the communion from person to person,” Suber said.
Along with Suber, employment associate Brady Schmell’s church service is also taking slight precautions. According to Schmell, the pandemic hasn’t had too large an effect on her gathering.
“The pandemic hasn’t really impacted the way we celebrate,” Schmell said. “We have a sunrise service outside followed by a day of celebration with my family.”