The four days which are of importance to Easter are briefly described below:
Good Friday, a day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death on the cross is a public holiday in South Africa, and the Monday following the Easter Weekend, Easter Monday(Family Day), is also a public holiday, thus creating an extra-long weekend.
Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent and also the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for the Easter festivities. It commemorates the one full day that Jesus Christ’s body laid in the tomb.
Easter Sunday is the day on which, according to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose again from the grave after his crucifixion on Good Friday. Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection and is the oldest and most important festival of the Western Christian year.
When is Easter Weekend in 2019/2020?
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Year Date Day Week of Month Easter Celebration 2019 19-April Friday 3rd Good Friday 2019 2019 20-April Saturday 3rd Holy Saturday 2019 2019 21-April Sunday 4th Easter 2019 2019 22-April Monday 4th Easter Monday 2019 2020 10-April Friday 2nd Good Friday 2020 2020 11-April Saturday 2nd Holy Saturday 2020 2020 12-April Sunday 3rd Easter 2020 2020 13-April Monday 3rd Easter Monday 2020
Why do Easter dates change every year?
The dates change every year since the death of Jesus occurred around the Jewish Passover, which is traditionally held on first full moon following the vernal equinox.
Because the full moon varies in each time zone, the Church decided to use the 14th day of the lunar month instead – the Paschal Full Moon – and host Easter Day on the following Sunday.
Once the date of that moon is known, Easter Day and the Easter holidays can be determined.
Because the dates change, Easter weekend sometimes coincides with South Africa’s other public holidays – and you can land a whole week off if you plan properly.
How is Easter Celebrated in South Africa?
Easter is considered to be an important family day in SA. The religious days of Easter always fall on a long weekend, creating opportunity for loved ones to get together and enjoy some quality time.
Traditionally, Easter is a Christian / Catholic celebration focused on commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. South Africans who follow these religions will usually attend church every day for 4 days between 3 and 6 pm (starting on the Thursday and ending on Easter Sunday).
Depending on the type of church and the cultures most prominent within those churches, these Easter vigils are usually filled with prayer, Bible verse readings, the singing of hymns and the beating of African drums. . On Easter Sunday itself, the services sometimes last all day long, though there are “breaks” and dinners involved as well. Easter Monday has long been a day to relax and recover from the hustle and bustle of Easter Day, but in 1995, it was renamed by the government “Family Day” to encourage people of all belief systems to participate in festivities held on the day after Easter.
In South Africa, there are also frequently Easter parades, egg hunts, egg-decorating workshops, and grand Easter feasts with native dishes. Local organisations will hold Easter events for kids, and families will spend much of the day out and about, while relaxing at home the rest of the time. Those families that are not religious will often celebrate Easter (seen more as a family event) in their own unique way. They often have their own traditions that they stick to and attach their own special meaning to the day.
South Africa does have a good deal of special Easter time dishes, including hot cross buns and pickled fish. Both of these dishes are especially common in the area around Capetown. Hot cross buns derive from a British Easter tradition brought over by early Cape Province settlers.
On Easter Sunday, many cultures also embrace the tradition of ‘eggs’changing’, chocolate eggs (which symbolise new life and rebirth) and will often enjoy a family meal in the afternoon or evening consisting of rice, a selection of veggies and roast meat.
Easter Weekend: Things to Do
- In Capetown, on the Saturday before Easter, you can enrol your kids in the Golden Easter Egg Hunt at the Kenilworth Racecourse. Toddlers, ages three to six, and “juniors,” aged seven through 11, have separate hunts. There will also be face painting, inflatable castles to jump in, and other fun activities.
- Also in Cape Town, your kids may wish to find their way through the Lindt Gold Bunny Maze at the V and A Waterfront. They can search out hidden chocolates, do sand art, face painting, papier mache crafts, or spend time at the petting zoo.
- In Johannesburg, at the Killarney Mall, you may wish to treat your kids to the locally famous “Easter Village.” There will be candy to find, a visit from the “real” Easter bunny, and plenty of other fun events. The adults can probably squeeze in a little shopping time as well.
- One of the best Easter events in “Joburg” is the Rand Show, which has fun events for the whole family. It is one of the largest Easter shows in the world and attracts hundreds of thousands to its kids’ activities, Food Theatre, “Man Cave,” science and tech lab, helicopter rides, and more.
Whether you are someone who enjoys traditions and goes to church during Easter, or someone who celebrates differently by firing up the braai with a couple of friends, we’re sure that you’ll agree that Easter is, a beloved cultural holiday within South Africa.