Easter 2020 amongst Slovaks in Canada
By: Ondrej Miháľ, Toronto
The Easter holidays are behind us. The food, the family and the renewed promise from Jesus Christ of eternal life has been celebrated amongst families in Canada in many ways. This was the year the Covid-19 virus cancelled the traditional way of celebrating Easter holidays and each family or individual was left to find the meaning of Easter in their own way.
For the most part, Slovak extended families who have been cooped up in their homes for weeks were forced to find new and innovative ways to keep the spirit of Easter alive. It was not a physical communal experience but mostly virtual. Many send photos and short videos of their cooking experiments and preparations for Easter. They used SKYPE, Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber or ZOOM to connect with their loved ones, be it in Toronto or in far away Slovakia. In each way the Slovaks tried to improve the spirit of their friends and families.
This is the year that many families become closer, despite the long distance. Friends called from around the world asking how they are doing and coping. During those calls they shared their fears, aspirations and plans for the future after the virus is conquered. The conversations were not measured in minutes but in hours. All of a sudden, because of the VIRUS, people had time, lots of time to catch up on family events, ask difficult questions and share in the good and bad times that have transpired since last time we briefly chatted but not listened or not cared as much.
It was the Easter where friends left food packages by the door to those who were shut it, old, grieving because of loss of a loved ones or just not as fortunate.. Others left Easter Bunny baskets full of chocolate eggs in the driveway for the children who cannot make sense of the pandemic. The baskets try to bring normality to children over the holidays because the Easter bunny was cancelled in 2020
It was the year where churches and places of worship stayed empty of believers The traditional packed visits to the churches was not to be in 2020. Easter baskets were blessed virtually via ZOOM or other technology. People prayed and sang in front of their laptops watching the minister deliver the traditional church service from the empty Sts. Cyril and Methodius Slovak church in Mississauga. It was eerie and strange. It was unprecedented in Canada.
In my previous article I stated “The world is at war with an invisible enemy. Its name is COVID-19, a deadly virus just like some alien from a distant planet in a B grade sci-fi movie. It lurks everywhere, it strikes silently, and it leaves, death, scars and broken families wherever it strikes. The world will not be the same after its contained or let us hope, finally conquered.” This deadly virus has propelled Canada to the 12 spot in infections. But where there are infections there is also death! Many Canadians blame the Federal government for its lack of foresight in preventing the spread of the virus earlier in the year, others are more forgiving and state that this invisible enemy could not be prevented from coming to Canada. History will tell where the mistakes were made but currently our most at-risk citizens, including Slovaks in old age homes are locked down in old age homes or hospitals where the silent killer is staling and killing without discrimination. Over half of all deaths to Corid-19 in Canadian are in old age homes.
For those families having loved ones in such dangerous facilities, this Easter was stressful, fearing every phone call from the hospital and dreading that they would be informed that their loved ones had succumbed to CORID-19
This Easter will be remembered and talked about for years to come. Many good and maybe not so good things will come out of it. Many families will come out stronger, others will make plans for life after the Corid-19 dies down. The world will be different place. IT will be up to us to remember what we experienced, learned, and experienced during this Easter 2020 because hopefully its lesson will not be repeated for many many years.