How Do You Celebrate Spring?

How Do You Celebrate Spring?

Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

What springtime activities and celebrations are you planning?

Will you observe a religious holiday like Ramadan, Passover or Easter? Do you go on walks and picnics to enjoy warmer weather? Have you been watching March Madness or are you eagerly anticipating the beginning of baseball season?

How does the coronavirus pandemic factor into your plans? As vaccinations increase and case numbers decline, are you approaching springtime gatherings any differently than you did last year?

In “How to Celebrate the Spring Holidays Safely With Your Family,” Christina Caron writes about different families’ plans to safely celebrate spring holidays:

The weather is warming, the days are looking brighter and the number of people getting vaccinated is on the rise. So can we finally celebrate the spring holidays together like we used to, back when we could see the bottom halves of everyone’s faces?

Well, not exactly.

Although coronavirus cases and deaths are declining nationwide and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued new, looser safety guidelines for vaccinated people, the agency recommended against unmasked indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people except in certain circumstances.

We asked public health experts to help us understand the latest guidance and offer advice on how to safely observe upcoming holidays like Easter, Passover and Ramadan.

The article describes how two families are planning scaled-down Passover and Ramadan celebrations:

Erica Fleischer, 42, a public policy expert and mother of two who lives in Chicago, said her family would typically celebrate Passover Seder, held on the first two nights of the eight-day holiday, at her in-laws’ home, surrounded by as many as 20 people.

Last year they met virtually, but this year, given the new C.D.C. guidance, her unvaccinated family will have a small dinner with her in-laws, who have each received the vaccine.

Ms. Fleischer said she feels “pretty confident” the risks of infecting one another are low. “I think I actually needed more convincing than my in-laws did.”

Dr. Shaun Din, 35, a radiation oncologist in Manhattan, is planning to spend part of the holy month of Ramadan with nearby family members. Five of the eight adults, including Dr. Din and his parents, have been vaccinated, so the family feels comfortable meeting unmasked on weekends for the evening iftars that break each daylong fast.

“Last year was very lonely, not being able to celebrate together,” Dr. Din said. “Ramadan is difficult, but the communal aspect of all of us going through it and then breaking the fast together is something that’s very fun.”

The experts Ms. Caron interviews acknowledge that loosening restrictions could create moments of disagreement between family members with different risk and comfort levels:

After a year of public health warnings, some family members might feel uneasy about loosening the rules while others might be anxious to get back to normal.

Last year, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Claudia W. Allen, a clinical psychologist and the director of the Family Stress Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, told The New York Times that if there are differences of opinion, it’s important not to pass judgment, start lecturing or assume that your relatives have bad motives.

“The people who are willing to take more risks are usually doing it because they’re valuing connection. And the people who are less willing to take risks are usually less willing because they are prioritizing safety. Connection and safety are both good,” Dr. Allen said at the time.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • What springtime celebrations are you planning? Whether you’re observing religious holidays or just celebrating a change in the weather, what are your plans?

  • What foods, songs, activities and traditions do you associate with springtime? What do they mean to you? Do you have a favorite memory of spring?

  • How are you balancing safety and community in your springtime plans? Are you planning small or outdoor gatherings? Do any of the plans shared by the families in the article sound like something you might want to try?

  • How has your risk assessment for gatherings changed now that vaccinations are underway in many places? What is your reaction to the advice of the public health experts quoted in the article?

  • Are your springtime plans different this year from last year? How did you feel last spring? How are you feeling now?

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Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.