Families find new ways to celebrate Easter during unconventional times


Patty Coggen

A glimpse at the landmark cross in San Francisco atop Mount Davidson.

Steven Rissotto ‘20, Editor-In-Chief

The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has changed many events, emotions, and even just the way everyday events would have been conducted. If any indication based on the recent trends, the virus is improving slowly but surely. However, one event that could not be canceled is a celebration ingrained on the yearly calendar.

Easter is the first major holiday to be affected by the pandemic, as many families all over the world celebrated separately. It might not be a big deal for some, but others who value the importance of tradition were forced to abbreviate the fun and exciting family time. 

Jennifer Dorantes
Colored eggs and flowers are a familiar sight on Easter Sunday.


It became even more difficult with California’s shelter-in-place order in full effect, as many restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner were limited to to-go orders or not even open at all. Unfortunately, the 15-person brunches at a local pancake house with family and friends were an impossible Easter tradition this year.

Another example of a tradition put on hold was to take place in the shadow of a stone cross. For the last 97 years, people gathered atop San Francisco’s highest natural point, Mount Davidson, for an annual Easter Sunrise Service. Mt. Davidson’s 103-foot tall cross is one of the nation’s largest and can be seen throughout the city. A tradition that started in 1922 did not continue for a 98th straight year. 


Every year on the night before Easter, the San Francisco landmark could be spotted miles away, glowing and lighting up the night sky. This year, the cross shined blue in support of the millions of health care professionals and first responders who have risked their lives to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Easter’s significant appeal to children has been the existence of the Easter Bunny, a bucket full of candy, and an ultra-competitive egg hunt. The good news is that these festivities were not completely off the table and were salvaged. However, CDC guidelines dictated social distancing during any event with 10 or fewer people from different households. Cousin Lenny pushing over Cousin Leila will have to wait another year.

Even though many families did not celebrate as a whole, technology has enhanced verbal and visual relationships to make interactions more enjoyable. Applications such as Zoom were beneficial to families that celebrated Easter across multiple households. Once the lamb was on the table ready to be served, the Zoom call was set up right then and there, almost as if everyone was physically there together. 

Many Christians attend mass every Easter, statistically standing as the most populated day of the year for most churches. Christmas and Mother’s Day are second and third on that list. Due to the pandemic, the closest people came to celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a church was watching services on television. Pope Francis delivered an Easter Mass in front of an empty St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and many local churches in San Francisco did something similar.

Riordan teachers Mary Ann and Alex Datoc often have traditions where they assist their local parish by volunteering to decorate for the Holy Week masses. This year, only three people could help with social distancing protocol being practiced, when in previous years, up to 15 people participated. They also took part in watching a live stream of all their church events through their church.

The Datoc Family
Mary Ann Datoc was one of a small amount of people who helped decorate her local parish for Easter.

Their two children, Jameson ’23 and AJ took part in assisting with Easter dinner, which was cooked by Mr. Alex Datoc ’87. AJ baked a fresh dessert and Jameson helped set up and clean up the table.

The Datoc Family
The Datoc’s two children served the parish at mass a few years back. Jameson (right) and AJ (left).

The circumstances were unfortunate, but the rules and guidelines are essential and needed to be followed in order for the country to continue to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. The good news is that there were many ways in which people celebrated Easter, and the circumstances did not detract from the reason for the celebration. 

“We made the most of our quarantine time and it will never stop our Catholic faith and family traditions,” said Mary Ann Datoc. “It made us stronger.  One good thing that we got out of this new normal lifestyle is family time every day.”