A student tries to blow out a candle for a pandemic birthday. Photo credit: Frankie Benvenuti

Since COVID-19 forced everyone inside in March, there have been restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings. Those restrictions have made celebrating birthdays in the traditional way virtually impossible.

Despite things being more difficult, students at Algonquin College have been finding a way to celebrate birthdays during the pandemic.

“I’ve had both my birthday and celebrated others since March,” said Mary McPherson, a third-year student in the bachelor of commerce, e-supply chain management program. “They’ve all been low key and on Zoom, or with a quick socially distanced gift drop off. To me, it’s not worth jeopardizing myself or anyone else in my life trying to do anything more.”

Xander Burke, a second-year student in the game development program, has also celebrated a birthday with some more simplicity.

“I celebrated my brother’s birthday by making a cake with him, it’s the small things that count,” said Burke.

“[We celebrated] my brother’s birthday,” said Jannelle Martin, a graduate of the performing arts program. “I put together a video from all of his friends and teachers wishing him a happy birthday! It’s a thoughtful memory they’ll never forget and definitely makes them feel special on their day.”

Others haven’t yet had the chance to celebrate their birthdays, even with virtual meetups.

“My birthday was a few days after lockdown,” said Harvey Patterson, a graduate of computer programming in 2018. “I had to cancel the party, but I assumed that three weeks of lockdown would bring the virus under control and I would celebrate my birthday a bit late. Here we are eight months later.”

If you are looking for suggestions on how to celebrate a birthday during this pandemic time, these safe partiers are here to help.

“If you’re missing people from your party that isn’t in your immediate household, you can do Zoom,” said Burke.

Students are using the video conference platform Zoom not only for remote learning, but also for virtual social gatherings.

“Don’t risk anything,” said Kelsey Amos, a practical nursing student. “Facetime your family that live far. It’s not worth risking people’s lives, or the fines. Stay safe. Don’t party. Wear a mask!”

The city of Ottawa currently is not recommending in-person gatherings. The limit for indoor gatherings is at 10, while the limit for outdoor gatherings is at 25. You can find out more information here.