NATIONAL -- More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans who observe Easter say their Easter spending will be affected by the coronavirus this year, according to WalletHub’s new holiday-focused Coronavirus survey. This survey looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has changed Americans’ plans.

Key Findings

  • Worshippers don’t want to stay home: 56% of Americans who went to church on Easter Sunday last year say they will go to church for Easter this year, if it is open.
     
  • Republicans are more likely to attend services: Republicans are almost three times more likely than Democrats to attend church on Easter this year, if it is open.
     
  • Pandemics make us appreciate family and health more: The coronavirus has made Americans most grateful for their family (40%), followed by health (29%) and then freedom (13%).
     
  • Traditional Easter spending is down: Almost half of Easter-celebrating Americans are skipping out on candy, new outfits and Easter foods this year, in contrast with prior years.
     
  • COVID-19 itself is scarier than financial troubles: 68% of Americans are more worried about the coronavirus than the U.S. economy.
     
  • Many Americans think lockdowns should last: About half of Americans believe that non-essential business, restaurants and travel should not restart for at least 3 months.

Since large family gatherings are now allowed at this time because of coronavirus social distancing measures, what can people do?

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"A lot of people are hosting seders virtually with ZOOM or other such apps," said Jackie Lieberman, a Scotch Plains resident and Temple Sholom congregant. "We were all supposed to meet in St. Louis, but instead we will meet virtually. It's amazing that we can do it."

Temple Sholom will host a virtual seder on Thursday night, and the youth group is doing a Minecraft seder so that kids can participate.

"It's something that the kids can do together," Lieberman added.

"One of the difficulties of this current time is that long family traditions, like Passover seder, are being upset. At a time when we really want to be able to gather with family, and feel the comfort of tradition, we cannot," said Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains. "We are trying to find the best ways to help." (For congregants interested in information about the virtual schedule, email rabbi@sholomnj.org.)

At Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) (18 Shalom Way, Scotch Plains), in light of the impact of COVID-19 on the temple's ability to carry on its normal rituals, educational and cultural activities in the synagogue, CBI is moving services online. Congregants can find a continually updated list with links to participate on the Virtual Shul page. Religious School families are invited to check out our Virtual Religious School page.

The synagogue has created a Passover 5780 page filled with resources for "this very unique year."

How do people plan to celebrate Easter?

Father Michael Ward of Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) in Scotch Plains, like other Catholic priests across the country, has begun Facebook livestreaming Mass on Sundays. His first effort in mid-March had 700 viewers. He has put together the following Holy Week livestream schedule:

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper: April 9, 2020 @ 7:30 p.m.
Good Friday Veneration of the Cross: April 10, 2020 @ 3:00 p.m.
Good Friday Facebook Watch Party-Sung Stations of the Cross @ 7:00 p.m.
Easter Vigil (Saturday): April 11, 2020 @ 8:00 p.m.
Easter Sunday Mass: April 12, 2020 @ 10:00 a.m.
Easter Week Mass: Daily livestream @ 8:30 am., followed by Divine Mercy Novena livestream

St. Bartholomew The Apostle Church is livestreaming Masses (schedule was sent by FJ) while also providing the mass on TV for seniors who don't have access to a computer. 

"We reached out to all of our seniors and asked if they needed anyone to shop for them or if they wanted a buddy (someone who calls and checks up on them and provides companionship during these lonely times," said Elaine Coupe, director of community outreach for St. Bart's. "We are also providing booklets in front of the church for people to do a self directed Stations of the Cross."

Additionally, the church is running a program called "Your Home Is Your Chapel" in which families make a personal altar in their home or design a cross to place in their window. Then they send a picture to the church, and St. Bart's will schedule a "drive by blessing" of the home from the curb by Father John and Father David. 

"It is a way to connect to our parishioners personally," Coupe said. "We have also collected pictures of the parish and taped them to the pews so that the priests see their parishioners when they look out at the church. The church is due to be filled by Easter."

St. Bart's Schedule

Holy Thursday: 9:00 a.m. Mass - Livestream, 5:00 p.m. - Comcast channel 34, Verizon channel 22
Good Friday: 3:00 p.m. service - Livestream, 5:00 p.m. - Comcast channel 34, Verizon channel 22
Easter Sunday: 10:00 a.m. Mass - Livestream, 5:00 p.m. - Comcast channel 34, Verizon channel 22

“Americans that celebrate this year plan to partake in at least some of their regular traditions in a way that fits with social distancing guidelines,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “For example, around 66% of people plan to have phone calls or video conferencing, 24% will watch church on TV, and 19.5% will have indoor Easter egg hunts. Some people may do all of the above.”

“Churches may suffer from fewer donations, as around 27% of Easter-celebrating Americans plan to donate less on Easter this year than they did last year,” according to Gonzalez. “Almost two-thirds will donate the same amount. Over a quarter of Americans plan to donate part of their coronavirus stimulus check to a religious organization.”

“The Easter candy industry will take a big hit, as over 42% of people who normally purchase candy say they will not do so this year,” the WalletHub analyst said. “Americans will also forego buying new outfits, decorations, and Easter food at nearly the same percentages.”

Will most Americans obey social distancing guidelines?

CNN reported in a widely seen video that some churches that continue to host services on Sunday, as well as weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals in the Hasidic communities in Brooklyn, NJ, and Lakewood, NJ, despite being urged not to do so. 

“What is most concerning is that 56% of people who went to church on Easter last year say they want to go again this year, if services are held,” reports Gonzalez. “Fortunately, others are adapting to the circumstances more reasonably. Most people who celebrate Easter will end up staying at home, recognizing that limiting close contact will help flatten the curve and minimize the spread of COVID-19. It’s just the highly social minority we need to worry about.”

List of local churches:

All Saints Episcopal Church, 559 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, (908) 322-8047
Emanuel Baptist Church, 1130 Lincoln Ave., Scotch Plains, (908) 233-2322
Evangel Church, 1251 Terrill Rd., Scotch Plains, (908) 322-9300
Fanwood Presbyterian Church, 74 S. Martine Ave., Fanwood (908) 889-8891
First United Methodist Church, 1171 Terrill Rd., Scotch Plains, (908) 322-9222
Mt Sinai Alpha Omega Church, 2678 Plainfield Ave., Scotch Plains, (908) 233-3010
St. John's Baptist Church, 2387 Morse Ave., Scotch Plains, (908) 232-6972
Scotch Plains Baptist Church, 333 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, (908) 322-5487
Scotch Plains Christian Church, 1800 Raritan Rd., Scotch Plains, (908) 889-1690
Terrill Road Baptist Church, 1340 Terrill Rd., Scotch Plains, (908) 322-7151
Terrill Road Bible Chapel, 535 Terrill Rd., Scotch Plains, (908) 322-4055
Warren Temple Church Of The Living God, 329 Evelyn St., Fanwood, (732) 815-9839
Willow Grove Presbyterian Church, 1961 Raritan Rd., Scotch Plains, (908) 232-5678
Woodside Chapel, 5 Morse Ave., Fanwood, (908) 889-2375