Easter is one of the busiest weekends for travel of the year; many families choose to spend this time to go on a short break or to meet up with other relatives. This year, with social distancing policies being enforced, the world will have to spend the Easter holidays staying safe at home. The impact of COVID-19 will change the way religious holidays are celebrated, as well as how every day worship will happen. Alternatives to gathering in Church have been suggested, such as praying at home with family or to participate in services that are being broadcasted online.
Going to church is an essential part of Easter Sunday for Christians around the world, and the last time churches were closed during Easter in Britain was in 1213 when priests were banned from holding congregations. For Christians, Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and not being able to go to church to honour this on Easter Sunday will be disappointing for many families across the globe. It isn’t just services that have been cancelled; churches have been forced to close down completely due the pandemic, meaning that many people are unable to go to church for a private prayer.
He contended that as off-licences and supermarkets remain open, then why can’t churches do the same?
Conservative MP Jack Lopresti argued that churches should be kept open during Easter Sunday for “private prayer.” He contended that as off-licences and supermarkets remain open, then why can’t churches do the same? However, others have insisted that closing churches enforces the message that people need to stay at home, and that church doesn’t have to be an essential part of prayer. The Bishop of Chelmsford stated that “God always does a door-to-door service” suggesting that people can still pray at home with the same spiritual awareness as when at Church.
At least people can stay connected to their faith without risking further spread of the disease.
Religious leaders around the world are encouraging congregants to connect with each other through video chats and livestreams, and to use technology to maintain contact within their community. This provides a solution to churches closing; it may not be ideal, and it is unprecedented, but at least people can stay connected to their faith without risking further spread of the disease.
The Jewish holiday Passover will also be greatly affected by the lockdown and travel bans. Many Jews fly to Israel to be with extended family members, but that will be impossible due to the restrictions on the country’s borders. This year it is celebrated from 8th – 16th April, meaning that celebrations have already begun; Jews might feel the absence of family members living outside of their households and the effects this will have on their celebrations.
The communal aspects of the celebration have also been restricted – Seders, which are hosted by kibbutz across Israel have been cancelled, which is devastating news for most communities across the country. This also affects Jews world-wide, who are unable to share this holiday with their family. Recordings of previous Seder nights are being uploaded online to help members of this community feel less isolated, and to create a sense of unity.
During a time where strength in faith is particularly needed, it is vital that people are still able to connect with their religion and belief
It seems that technology will play a big part this year in allowing religions to continue with their annual celebrations and rituals, ensuring that communities can stay connected. During a time where strength in faith is particularly needed, it is vital that people are still able to connect with their religion and beliefs; in whatever form that may take. The effects that this pandemic is having on religious ceremonies are huge, and could potentially change the way religion is practised after COVID-19.
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