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Celebrating festivals and occasions during COVID-19 restrictions

Posted by: Mark Burslem

Traditionally, it’s the time of year for planning and celebrating festivals such as Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas and Thanksgiving, bringing friends and family together to enjoy the fesitivities. It is safe to assume that 2020’s celebrations will be a bit different to those in years gone by.

Diwali, on 14th November, will occur when people in the UK are under the highest lockdown restrictions. It’s likely these restrictions, including rules against household gatherings, will continue throughout December, affecting people celebrating Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapti, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year.  

Earlier this year Muslims around the world celebrated the end of Ramadan: this is the the end of fasting known as Eid al-Fitr. Traditionally Muslims gather with friends and family and hold a huge celebration with special food and dress. However, with lockdown measures in place in various parts of the world, it was a very different experience for many. We sat down with two of our consultants from our Singapore office, Charles Tissot and Dilla Saini, who celebrated Eid in Singapore.

Dilla told us, “For myself, it was indeed a memorable occasion since we were in lockdown (or what we called ‘circuit breaker’ in Singapore). No visiting was allowed but we did dress up and spend the entire day catching up with our relatives via Zoom. Definitely something new which we have never experienced before.”

We also spoke to Charles who explained, “My experience was similar to Dilla’s. We did not have any family gatherings for Eid this year as we were limited to 5 people. We did make an effort to dress up in the traditional Malay dressing to mark the celebration. Most households would prepare a dish called ‘Longtong’ on Eid (similar to turkey for Christmas). Friends and family would often deliver longtong and traditional Malay desserts/cakes “KUEH HARI RAYA” to each other’s’ homes.”

The religious festivals at this time of year celebrate hope and prosperity and it is important that we all hold onto the meaning of these celebrations, especially if we can’t celebrate them in the way we’ve been able to in the past.

We will have to be more creative in how we join in the festivities but, in years to come, talking about how we celebrated in 2020 may well become one of our most cherished memories – precisely because we were asked to strip back and focus on the meaning.

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