By Vicko Alvarez and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa
For the 77% of U.S. Latinos that identify as Catholic or Christian, Easter Sunday is a big deal—like a big deal. It’s a time to dress up in your Spring finest, go to church —even if you haven’t been since Christmas— and spend time with your extended family and loved ones over a big meal. Unfortunately, for the millions of Americans that find themselves living in a city or state stricken by a COVID-19 outbreak, all signs point to Easter Sunday gatherings being too risky.
State and local governments across the U.S. have issued “stay at home” and “shelter in place” orders to stem the spread of COVID-19. This includes Illinois, California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. President Trump, however, announced that Easter Sunday was the date he’d like to lift restrictions on public gatherings, a statement his own health advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, publicly cautioned against. Slowing down the spread of COVID-19, especially in cities like New York and Chicago will take time and intention, but it is necessary precautions like staying home that will ultimately save the lives of millions.
So what’s a large and extended Latino family to do about Easter Sunday during the time of COVID-19? The same thing those of us who have had to connect with family across borders were already doing—get online. This Easter we will have to avoid physically family gatherings, but here are five ways we can still celebrate together:
Schedule a remote meal together. Plan your menu beforehand, share it with your family members, and plan a coordinated time to eat together. Not much of a cook? You can order meals for delivery to your house and abuela’s house too.
Get facetime with well… Facetime or other apps for Android. Did you know you can do group chats on WhatsApp? You can create a group on Instagram messenger and up to 6 accounts can video chat together. Check out more apps to stay connected here.
Do you have a family member who still has to work through COVID-19 and their schedules just won’t match up to yours? Send audio and video messages to them that they can open when they’re off the clock. Apps like Marco Polo can make them more interactive with filters and other add-ons.
Host listening or watch parties together. Your favorite musicians are going live on Facebook and Instagram. Schedule a time to listen to their performances together. Have you checked out the new Netflix watch party extension? You can schedule a time to watch your favorite shows and even join a chatroom with that cousin who can’t stop talking during the movie!
Make a phone call. Make it a 3-way call! Old school, right?
Family is precious to U.S. Latinos, as it is for all Americans. In this moment, showing your family just how much you love them requires us to stay home. For the millions of families who are separated by borders, staying connected with family through the phone or internet is nothing new. Keeping physical distance will be difficult for some of us but it’s a small sacrifice to make to stop the spread of COVID-19, and to give health workers the time and resources they need to save lives.
Vicko Alvarez is an organizer, digital communications specialist, and DIY event planner. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is an organizer and member of the Chicago City Council.