Coronavirus, Celebration, and Creativity
It’s no secret that Ramadan feels different for all of us this year, especially as Eid is right around the corner. The coronavirus has affected all of us in various ways. In the past, Ramadan was a time where we would stay out late into the early morning with friends, make boxes of food for less fortunate families, and spend time with more extended family and cousins and aunties than you can keep track of.
This year however, we can’t celebrate Eid the traditional way that we used to. We don’t have the crowded kitchen filled with steaming aromas of mahshi, duck, bechamel pasta, and molokheya – and our mom yelling at us to either help her with food or get out (bless all you mamas of Ramadan.) Instead, we gather with a smaller group of close family members, or with some of our close friends. Stores and restaurants are closed, and we now have a new curfew of 5pm during Eid. For many of us, Ramadan 2020 comes with an empty sense of loss.
But throughout the past two weeks, many individuals have also risen to the challenge and found creative ways to spend the holy month. As human beings, it’s in our nature to evolve and adapt to our circumstances, no matter how extreme. And in the most inspiring of those cases, we find ways to create something more beautiful and meaningful. Let me share some of these with you.
8 Creative Ways to Celebrate Eid this Year
1. Take advantage of technology to connect
Given the fact that most of us are all staying at home and glued to our phones, this seems like an obvious activity. But by “taking advantage of technology to connect,” I don’t simply mean endless scrolling through instagram and facebook. Those who are enjoying their Ramadan most are finding ways to be intentional with connecting. They schedule time to watch television together as a family or with friends, and purposely make time to have video calls with their family members who are stuck abroad.
2. Learn to be a Chef
With the combination of curfew and Eid, many people are finding an added incentive to help out in the kitchen, and learn a few culinary tips and tricks along the way. After all, cooking amazing meals is a worthy skill that is bound to impress anyone, and who better to teach home cooking than your mom? I for one, have learned how to make a bomb lasagna, a heavenly chocolate cake, and amazing lemon bars.
3.Drive-thru Dinner by the Nile
This is one of my favorite ideas just because it gets so many creativity points. Cook your meal, pack it up into a little picnic basket with utensils, napkins, and refreshments, and park your car by the Nile. Enjoy a delicious meal with good company and a great view, while also social distancing! Win-win.
4. Start your own Virtual Iftar (Break-fast) club
The coronavirus has forced us to rethink how we spend time in community. One of my friends has started inviting others to share virtual meals, instead of going out to restaurants. Of course, nothing beats hanging out in person, but give this new way of extending and receiving hospitality a try – especially because it keeps your loved ones safe. For an extra fun twist, decide on a recipe to cook together beforehand and host a virtual cooking party before breaking fast together.
5. Quality Time
Spending time with family and friends doesn’t just mean staring blankly at the television for hours. You can take this time to get to know loved ones a bit better. Set up a table with some snacks and tea, and write out a list of “table topic” questions that each person has to answer. For example: “if you could have dinner with any person in history, who would it be and why?” Or, “What is your proudest accomplishment in your life?” If that feels too structured, try taking turns complimenting what you appreciate most about each friend or family member. Even though we can’t hang out with too many friends and extended family this year, we can still take the opportunity to grow closer to each other.
Bring out your competitive side! After Iftar, people have been coming up with different ideas to connect and have fun while staying indoors. Since most of us are cooped up indoors, many of my friends are dusting off old ping pong paddles for a good old ping-pong tournament, or playing video games with friends. Others are busting out games like backgammon, chess, checkers, or other card games. If you’re bored of the same old games, check out some of the many more modern board games like Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, Cluedo, or even – Pandemic.
Set up a training area with basic equipment, or even no equipment if you have limited space and supplies. These days there are countless videos online with free workouts and exercise regimens that you can follow. Better yet, get a few friends or family members in on the challenge and see if you can’t use the lockdown time to get that six pack you’ve always wanted. If at home exercises aren’t for you, go for some bike rides around town, or even a run! One of my friends was able to rally together his friends who weren’t used to training regularly.
8. Create your Life Vision
Less time spent in commute and traffic, means more time for creativity. Aside from reading and painting, another idea that I’ve adopted is creating a vision board. This is a great activity to do with your family, spouse, or just by yourself. All you need is a large poster board, some markers, scissors, glue, and a bunch of newspapers and magazines. Write down a number of categories that you would like to work on. For example, some of my categories include travel, career, relationships, health, and finances. After listing my categories, I envision what my ideal “travel” life, or “career” would look like. I write it on the vision board, and place a complementing image next to my goal. This is something that I like looking at every day to remind myself of what I am working towards.
How do you want to remember 2020?
One perspective that I like to live by during this time is to think about how I want to remember Coronavirus 10, 20, 30 years from now. Do I want to remember it as a season of learning, growth, and/or rest? Or a season of anxiety and sadness? So many experiences in life are dictated by how we choose to see them, and I have consistently been inspired by my friends who choose to see the positive in Ramadan despite Coronavirus. Those who do, find themselves to be more productive, closer to their immediate family and friends, and less stressed about having to make too many social gatherings.
Mosques may be closed, but what is most important is that the spirit of Ramadan stays alive in our hearts. This year, I’d like to challenge all of us to rise up to the occasion and create our own meaning and light for Eid 2020.