Carry On Leonardo: how readers are celebrating Easter in lockdown

Katherine Purvis

“It was like a Carry On film,” says Jane Redman of her family’s attempt to recreate Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Inspired by the recent social media trend, Jane, her husband Chris, their son Nick and daughter Amy – who are all in lockdown together – set themselves an Easter challenge to recreate a classic artwork using things they already had at home.

To achieve the image, they took four separate shots in their back garden – changing costumes and poses between each – and then stitched the photos together digitally. “My husband kept saying: ‘We’ve got to be quick because the light keeps changing.’ He was putting us under loads of pressure. We were all wearing different bits of sheet and he was saying ‘Come on, get changed!’ and we’d say ‘Where’s my arm supposed to be? Where am I looking?’ … You’d probably only do it in a lockdown.”

As people across the UK must continue to stay at home because of the coronavirus, we asked Guardian readers how they are planning to celebrate Easter in lockdown.

Dozens of churchgoers told us that they had discovered new ways to worship together, and will be tuning into online services and prayer meetings.

A group called Student Cross has adapted its annual pilgrimage to the Anglican and Roman Catholic shrines in Little Walsingham, Norfolk. “We normally walk in 11 different groups, carrying a cross and stopping to share refreshment and reflections with those we meet,” says Laura Mitcham.

But with the pilgrimage cancelled this year, participants can instead go online to log their steps from walking around their home or local area as part of their daily exercise, as well as taking part in daily Zoom liturgy services. “It’s not the same as the physical pilgrimage, says Mitcham, “but it’s something special that will be remembered due to its unique nature and the way the community has pulled together.”

Many people across the country are baking hot cross buns and Simnel cakes, decorating houses with homemade ornaments, and organising indoor Easter egg hunts.

“My daughter absolutely loves rabbits so Easter is her favourite time of year,” says Rachel Acres from Bradford-on-Avon. On Thursday, she and Bethany, seven, dug out leftover cardboard from their garage to make into giant rabbits and decorate their front garden “to wish all passers-by a happy Easter”.

In Cornwall, Sarah Parmenter is staging a mini-festival for her four-year-old son who has loved doing Easter egg hunts with his cousins and friends in previous years. “The bunting will be out, magical Easter egg plants will have grown in the garden and of course the bunny will have visited – apparently he has a special sleigh which allows him to comply with social distancing requirements,” says Parmenter. “We already have an Easter tree decorated with a special sign, reminding the bunny to stop here.”

For Millie Jones and her housemates, this weekend marks not only Easter but also the end of their two-week self-quarantine after one started showing symptoms. To celebrate, they’ll have “a very tame blowout” and recreate a typical Christmas day: Bucks Fizz and croissants in the morning, films and chocolate in the afternoon, then a huge roast dinner.

“We want to make it as fun as possible,” says Jones. “It feels like we’re all living in the week between Christmas and New Year anyway, so we want to create a festive day, celebrating each other, in this time of lockdown.”

Rik Sterken and his family had planned to spend a few nights on the Welsh coast this weekend. Instead, they’re taking a mini-camping trip into their back garden. “We reckon the tent just about fits,” says Sterken. “We’re trying to keep a sense of normality but also a sense of adventure as well.”

On Friday night, Sterken, his wife and two children will eat pizzas from their home-built, wood-fired pizza oven for the first time this year, and enjoy barbecued bacon butties on Saturday morning. “The kids are really excited, although we haven’t told them yet they’ll be sleeping on camping mats,” he says.

And unable to go to France on holiday, Crista Hazell and her husband Jon will be donning rabbit ears and painting on whiskers to be the Easter bunny for their older neighbours.

“We know they can’t see their families so thought we’d help them find a smile on Sunday by placing a few Easter eggs (with clean hands) on doorsteps before the sun rises,” says Crista, an author and education consultant from Bristol. “It’s something a bit daft, but hopefully we can give them a little love and enjoyment.”