Celebrating Easter and Passover in a pandemic for the second time

Students celebrated these spring holidays with a more positive outlook than last year


Daisy the bunny poses for a picture on the colonnade. Photo by her owner Jessie Ogden, ‘23.

Mary Alice Russell

Spring dresses, egg hunts and brunches with home groups all played a huge role in celebrating Easter in

Lilly Gillespie, ‘22, and housemate Hannah Ke-arns, ‘22, dressed in their Easter best for brunch. Photo by Emma Thai ‘22.

Lexington this year. 

Even though spring holiday celebrations for Passover and Easter looked a little different this year, the Washington and Lee community and Lexington as a whole worked hard to make this year feel slightly more normal than last year. 

“Last year I was in sweatpants so I definitely prefer this Easter,” said Lilly Gillespie, ‘22, who worked to help set up the Easter egg hunt held on campus this year. 

Gillespie and her roommate Felicity Taylor, ’22, decided that they wanted to find a way to celebrate Easter in a fun way. 

“I have always celebrated Easter with my family, and even though we are older now, my mom always plans an egg hunt or we would plan one for my younger family members. It was always a way to celebrate and be a little competitive,” Gillespie said. “I thought it would be a fun socially distant activity that we could do on campus since a lot of students weren’t with their families this Easter.” 

Gillespie and Taylor reached out to Kelsey Goodwin, the director of student affairs, to set up the exciting, unique celebration. Taylor and Gillespie wore their bunny ears and set out over 300 eggs in third year village, while residential life staff placed several hundred more eggs all over main campus. 

“We got prefilled eggs. With COVID we didn’t want to put in jelly beans that weren’t wrapped, but the prefilled candy was not as good as I would have preferred,” Gillespie said. “So, I bought chocolate candy. I just filled like 50 of the eggs with that so hopefully it was good. It was like Cadbury and Reese’s Pieces, so they were all wrapped.”

Many students said that Easter egg hunts are a huge part of childhood Easter memories. Jessie Ogden, ‘23, even did an egg hunt with her family last year. 

She said that at her house, everyone gets the same amount of eggs so that no one feels left out. But there is a competition about who can get the eggs the fastest. Ogden said that as the oldest, she always wins. 

Another big part of Easter and Passover traditions is food. 

Washington and Lee’s Hillel offered Seder baskets to all students. For Easter brunch, the Southern Inn restaurant in town offered a catered brunch with traditional options like lamb and French toast. Many students, however, made their own meals. 

Callie Garst, ’21, and her roommates, who live in a house they lovingly call “Disco,” said that they had a little brunch outside on April 4. She said they had a lot of fun together. 

Leah Huer, ’21, Disco’s resident baker, said she found a Pinterest post with instructions on how to make premade cinnamon buns to look like Easter bunnies. 

On campus, Carissa Rodriguez, ‘21, put together a brunch plate with pancakes, cinnamon buns, bacon, bananas and blueberries. 

Reformed University Fellowship encouraged students to attend Easter services. The junior women’s small group decorated Easter eggs together, and a many RUF members got brunch together after attending church. 

Intervarsity Fellowship, the other major Christian group on campus, did not have any scheduled events as a group, but some members got together. 

While some students did go to churches in town offering in-person services like Lexington Presbyterian Church, many students watched religious services on their computers. 

Many students, including Katie Lydon, ’22, have enjoyed having the opportunity to virtually attend the church from their hometown.

Even though people had to wear masks with their Easter best, there is still a lot more excitement and hope for what next Easter and even just the next few months will look like. 

“I feel like Easter is a lot about joy and hope, and it’s easier to see hope this Easter than it was last Easter because we have a lot of people getting vaccinations and things are opening up again,” Ogden said.