Celebrating the Holidays in Canada during COVID-19

Celebrating the Holidays in Canada during COVID-19

The holidays are going to look very different this year, but just because there are extended lockdown measures during the second wave of COVID-19, it doesn’t mean celebrations with family and friends have to be any less special.

Several cultural and religious communities have spent the year celebrating holidays virtually, so unless you and your loved ones are planning to quarantine for 14 days prior to a get-together, it’s best to follow public health guidelines and stick to online parties.

CTV reported that Zoom will be removing the 40-minute limit for free subscribers and allowing unpaid accounts to have video-calls during the holiday without any time restrictions from late December to early January.

Zoom spokesman said, “whether coming together on the final day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the New Year, or marking the last days of Kwanzaa, those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short.”

This year it’s important to keep up with traditions within your own household to remain happy, putting up lights and decorations, as well as cooking and baking holiday staples will help keep the celebratory spirit alive. When it comes to gifts, online shopping is essential but make sure you place orders with enough time as shipping delays have been prevalent this month.

Sending holiday cards, delivering food to loved ones, and gathering outdoors are also other alternatives this season. Socially distancing around a fire pit or going sledding will give both adults and children something to look forward to in the coming weeks.

There are still many that could use some holiday cheer at nursing homes, hospitals, and fire departments; bringing some joy in the form of food, desserts or small gifts can go a long way for those on the frontlines during this pandemic.

You can also donate to local shelters and food banks to spread the love with those who don’t have the means to celebrate the holidays. Whether it’s a pandemic or not, charitable donations are always needed across the country.

Christmas

In celebration of the birth of Jesus, many Canadians celebrate Christmas but the holiday is not always tied to religion. Many non-Christians think of Christmas as a holiday is about enjoying the company of loved ones, giving gifts, and having a special meal together.

This year, traditions such as baking cookies, secret Santa, ugly sweater competitions, and caroling can all be done virtually, so even if you can’t physically be with friends and family you can still connect and continue Christmas being a holiday to remember.

Hanukkah

The Jewish eight-day festival celebrates the early victory of the Maccabean revolt and is also known as the Festival of Lights. This year the holiday is celebrated from December 10th -18th; each day a candle is light on a menorah, and festivities include playing dreidel, singing religious songs, and eating fried or baked foods such as latkes.

Many Jewish-Canadians have taught communities about the importance of Hanukkah and this year many are having lighting ceremonies over video-calls to keep traditions alive.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st this year; the week-long celebration honors African-American culture. There are 7 candles during this holiday that represents seven principles that the African community values and throughout this week, Africans are meant to reconnect with their heritage.

Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, rice, beans, and okra are a few of the traditional dishes that accompany this holiday along with the giving of gifts and decorating homes with colorful cloth and art. African-Canadians are also known to celebrate Kwanzaa but this year, similar to any other holiday most festivities will be moved to online celebrations.

New Year’s

The countdown to 2021 will also look different this year, with no large gatherings or parties to celebrate the end of a trying year, many will be having an online drink via Zoom or other video-chat services with friends and families.

By Surina Nath

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