Holidays & Special Events

For many of us, this time of year is filled with holidays and celebrations—events that often involve large gatherings of family and friends. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to find ways to celebrate the holidays virtually. Remember, the number one thing we can do to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is to observe social distancing, stay at home, or follow shelter in place orders. This means we’re all staying at home to observe holidays and special events this year!   

Needless to say, this can make observing religious events and celebrating special life moments challenging. Below, you’ll find tips on how to celebrate holidays while observing social distancing. There are also a few tips for celebrating special events like a birth, birthday, or anniversary.

 

Ramadan (4/23 to 5/23)

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in the Islamic culture. During the month Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures, read the Quran, and pray. Ramadan is also a time where families connect, and members engage in community service. Fasting from sunrise to sunset practiced, followed by a shared meal with friends and family. This year sharing a meal will be impacted as we observe social distancing.   Imām’s around the world are encouraging virtual gatherings, many are streaming prayers and sermons. 

If you are looking to connect consider joining a Facebook group, like the Ramadan Iftar Project, where individuals can connect, break fasts together, and share photos of their iftar (meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan). Muslims breaking fast alone can watch Muslim YouTube stars sharing in their iftars.  With a little searching there are plenty of groups online virtually sharing Ramadan. Zoom and other on-line video platforms can connect friends and family to pray, reflect, and share a meal at the end of the fast.

 

Memorial Day (5/25)

Memorial Day honors the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. military. Many communities celebrate Memorial Day by hosting parades and ceremonies honoring our veterans. This year, most cities and towns have canceled parades and other ceremonies that commemorate this day in order to observe social distancing and keep everyone healthy and safe. There are still ways you and your family can honor our veterans while maintaining social distancing. Here are some ideas:  

  • Consider sending a care package to someone serving in the military. Sites like military.com have ideas for what and how to send care packages
  • Donate to a charity supporting the active military or veteran service organizations
  • Wear red, white, and blue to commemorate the day

In addition to public celebrations, many of us consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer. We typically host picnics, cookouts, and barbecues with friends and family over Memorial Day weekend. Large group barbecues and picnics may not be possible this year, but you can still enjoy your favorite foods and beverages from your backyard or nearby park.  Remember to maintain 6-feet of distance between you and others, and wear a mask when visiting a store to pick up burgers and hot dogs for your celebrations. Invite friends to join you via Facetime or another video call service.

Births, birthdays and anniversaries

Celebrating births, christenings, brit milot, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other life events are challenging right now. There are ways to recognize these events and share with even more friends and family as the party, gathering or celebration can be held virtually, which allows anyone to attend no matter where they are in the United States or elsewhere around the world. 

A friend of the Foundation, Zoe, attended a virtual birthday party using Zoom for her niece. The family sent out email invitations inviting everyone to the celebration. There was cake and everyone brought their own cupcake and beverage to the celebration

It’s important to continue recognizing the important events in our daily lives even during this difficult time. With a little planning, creativity, and visiting your favorite social media sites, you’ll find lots of idea for hosting virtual events in your home.

What technology to use?

There are numerous platforms that allow you to virtually gather groups together for meetings, networking, and special occasions. Many of these platforms are free while others charge an annual fee. We have listed a few below for easy reference.

Talk to your friends and family, by phone or email, about their favorite app or website. Consider using a platform your friends or family members use. Having a friend/family member available if you have technical issues is always helpful. You can also find lots of guidance on the web on how to use video applications including written instructions and video tutorials. 

Zoom

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants for 40 minutes
  • Upgrade for a fee and 40-minute restriction removed 

Google Hangouts  

  • Free to use, up to 10 participants
  • Recently relaxed restrictions until July 1, 2020 and can now host up to 250 participants

Skype

  • Free to use, up to 50 participants for unlimited duration

Jitsi

  • Free to use, up to 200 participants

GoTo Meeting

  • Free to use, up to 26 participants
  • Upgrade for a fee to include up to 1,000 participants

Webex Meetings 

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants, no time limit

Ring Central

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants, 40-minute time limit

Remo

  • Plans starting at $50 per month

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the video tools out there. Use your favorite search engine to find more resources to help you connect with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other important and special occasions.

 

 

All information is reviewed by the Foundation's National Scientific Advisory Committee, with additional guidance provided by Dr. Ellen Scherl, Weill Cornell Medicine and Nahima Ahmed, MPH

Last updated 5/18/20