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Online Trends

Published April 9th 2020

Covid-19 in APAC: Adapting to New Ways of Celebrating Traditional Festivities

With the government implementing stricter measures across Asia Pacific, consumers are finding ways to remain optimistic

As if travel restrictions were not bad enough, we are now asked to stay within the four corners of our homes.

And in some countries, anything beyond that now involves a form of penalty, or even death (according to Philippine President Duterte).

As the virus continues to tighten its grip on the world, we’re entering a particularly difficult period for those staying home. People celebrating cherished holidays like Ramadan and Easter are now being forced to recreate celebrations in new ways, possibly for the first time in history.

In this article, we take a look at the emotions expressed around a few different celebration types in Asia Pacific as consumers continue to share online their experiences and new versions of festivities.

Birthday celebrations

Many people are being forced to find alternative ways to mark their birthdays given the lockdown measures.

As we enter into month four of Covid-19, we are seeing some positive trends in consumers’ emotions as they start to come up with new ways to celebrate.

Emojis around birthday celebrations during the pandemic

Rank Emoji
1 💕
2 🙏
3 🤗
4 ❤️
5 🎂
6 😢
7 👏
8 👌
9 😊
10 😔
Tweets from APAC region in English language, shared on Twitter between 23 March - 5 April 2020. Data gathered using Brandwatch Consumer Research

There is no doubt that some people are upset by the change of plans – the sad emoji is one of the top emojis being used around birthday parties at the moment.

That said, consumers are leaning on technology to celebrate their birthdays, and even trying to get shoutouts from big names.

Consumers are also increasingly turning to charity donations as an opportunity for them to give back to society, like this heroine.


Looking at emotions around Ramadan, it’s a totally different story. Given the Ramadan period is in less than a month’s time, consumers are finding it hard to accept that they will not be able to indulge in the celebrations in the usual way, with night markets and large family gatherings off the table.

Over the past two weeks, we have consistently observed sad or heartbroken emojis being used online in relation to Ramadan 2020 celebrations.

Given the upset, anything that organizations can do to help people celebrate meaningfully at this difficult time could go down very well indeed. Meanwhile, it will be interesting for researchers to see how religious activity is altered during the crisis – what new or alternative actions will be given spiritual meaning?

Easter Holiday

Instead of excitable conversation about the upcoming fun, it seems consumers are no longer looking forward to or talking about Easter holidays online. In Australia, volume mentions have reduced over the past two weeks as consumers start to recognize that their lives will not return to normal even after Easter.

Public online mentions of Easter in Australia

Mar 25 - April 5 2020, data collected using Brandwatch Consumer Research

With Australians being asked to cancel their holiday plans or family gatherings during the Easter holiday, people aren’t happy. Boredom and loneliness seems to be a prominent issue.

#SGUnited in Singapore

While most of us are trying to adjust to the new norms around festivals and special occasions, Singaporeans, alongside many other citizens across the world, have dedicated time and effort to celebrating frontline workers.

The hashtag #SGUnited has been pushed by government channels and used by many throughout this period to unite Singaporeans in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis. #SGUnited spiked on March 30 with over 2.5k mentions.

As we continue to fight through this difficult period, there is disappointment and sadness online. But there’s also hope as consumers worldwide continue to share experiences and support each other.

For brands, reading the room is important. Anything that they can do to help make festivities special and promote a better stay-home experience will be celebrated.

Special thanks to Tyler Tai for his data analysis

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