Christmas in quarantine: How to celebrate the holidays during the pandemic

By Keaton Yates, Staff Reporter

Holidays are looking different  in 2020 due to the Coronavirus and many of us will be celebrating the next few weeks via Zoom or maybe not at all. 

While Christmas is the most popular winter holiday in Western culture, there are others such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas and the winter solstice.

The CDC is recommending that people not spend time together indoors with people outside of their household. Below are some different ways to celebrate with loved ones virtually and definitions of the various holidays taking place over the next month.



Christmas is a combination of many cultures and traditions that have changed over time. It did not become a Christian holiday until the 9th century. The date Dec. 25 was adopted by Christians in hopes Pagans would convert to Christianity. 


Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar, also known as Kislev, and lasts for eight days. This year, it will begin on Dec. 10. Hanukkah is the celebration of when the Second Temple of Jerusalem was regained from the Greeks.

More on this history of Hanukkah can be found here: (History: The Hanukkah story).


Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Black Studies at California State University, after the Watt Riots in the hopes of bringing the Black community together. The holiday begins on Dec. 26 and lasts seven nights to represent seven principles called the Nguzo Saba. 


These seven principles include:

  1. Umoja (Unity).
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-determination).
  3. Ujima (collective work and responsibility).
  4. Ujamaa (co-operative economics).
  5. Nia (purpose).
  6. Kuumba (creativity).
  7. Imani (faith).

Los Posadas

Las Posadas begins on Dec 16 and goes to Dec 24. This holiday celebrates the journey Joseph and Mary had to take for Jesus to be born.

Parades are a major tradition for Las Posadas and mass is held every night during the holiday followed by a party and piñatas. A special song is sung about Joseph asking for shelter before entering the building.

While a parade may not be done this year, homemade costumes could be made along with piñatas. Families could do a mini parade around their home or their yard, they could go to houses and sing carols as well. 

The winter solstice 

The winter solstice is on Dec. 21 and a ‘rare Christmas star’ is to be expected this year. The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night in the northern hemisphere and is celebrated by many different cultures. Traditions they all share in common though are making food, candle or lantern lightings and bonfires, and gift giving. 

How to celebrate safely

Each holiday has their own specific traditions, but spending quality time with family and friends is a must for all of them. With the help of certain apps or services, this is possible.

According to the CDC, celebrating virtually or with the members in your own household can slow down the spread of COVID-19. They suggest if you are to host a gathering, require guests to wear masks and wash hands upon arrival, avoid potluck gatherings and use single use condiments and utensils.

Streaming websites such as Netflix, Hulu Party and Kast allow users to watch videos or movies together. While Netflix and Hulu Party require a subscription, Kast is free to use making it possible to enjoy films or videos with family and friends while apart. 

Other websites that can make the distance feel smaller are Tabletopia and These two websites allow multiple people to play games together with a shared link. Another popular option for playing games as a family is Jackbox, but this requires at least one person to buy and download it.

For mobile users, apps such as Among Us, UNO, Black Humor and Mario Kart Tour are all multiplayer friendly. 

Gift giving is a regular tradition during winter holidays. Websites such as send heartwarming gifts for under $30. Browsing Etsy or Amazon can also be used for more personalized gifts and a simple letter or card can go a long way.

Meals can be made with family over Face Time or other video chatting services. That way you can have the meal together, each person can make whatever they want and still be together. 

Despite the troubles of COVID-19, holidays can still be celebrated and treasured through the help of family and friends, even from a distance. Get creative during this time and stay in touch with others to learn about their traditions and customs. 

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @keatsians. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.