Easter Sunday in South Africa

When is Easter Sunday in South Africa?

Easter Sunday in South Africa is on April 9, 2023. It falls on Sunday.

How many days until Easter Sunday in South Africa?

There are 278 Days left until Easter Sunday in South Africa.

Is Easter Sunday a public holiday in South Africa?

Easter Sunday is a Christian holiday celebrated annually in South Africa. Easter Sunday’s observance varies each year since its date of celebration falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox (which occurs on or after the 21st of March). Thus, Easter Sunday is typically observed in between late March and middle of April.

Although the day is filled with many activities, it is not declared as a public holiday in South Africa. Meaning, there shouldn’t be any restrictions in the country’s business schedules. Businesses and establishments should continue to operate as usual.

Easter Sunday Origin

Easter Sunday is celebrated to commemorate the day when Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, has resurrected. On Good Friday (three days preceding Easter Sunday), Jesus was beaten, tortured, crucified, and died as part of the prophecy to save and atone for the sins of mankind (as per the bible). Three days later, on Sunday, Jesus’s body was no longer seen in his tomb and those who have looked for Jesus on that day were informed by the angels that he has risen from the dead. His resurrection was an important event for the Christians. So, to commemorate such event, Easter Sunday was established. It was said that the first celebration for Easter began around the middle part of the second century. According to history records, the Jewish Christians were the first group of people to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Later on, the First Council of Nicaea (a council of Christian bishops in AD 325) decreed that Easter Sunday should be observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern’s vernal (spring) equinox. The Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox usually occurs either on or after the 21st of March. This is the reason why Easter Sunday’s celebration varies every year.

For the South Africans, they have begun to celebrate Easter when the Christian religion was introduced to the country. Christianity was brought in South Africa by the first European settlers around the 17th century. The religion has since continuously spread throughout the country and at present, majority of the nation’s population are adhering to the Christian faith. Although Easter Sunday is not designated as a national holiday, the day has been celebrated by the South Africans each year, both in a religious and secular manner.

Easter Sunday Traditions in South Africa

Easter is a celebration widely observed by many Christian countries around the globe. This holiday is considered one of the oldest festivals in the Christian religion. The day marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died thru crucifixion in the preceding three days (the day is a public holiday in South Africa called Good Friday). Easter is one of the busiest days of the year and its observance is filled with various activities. For the South Africans, Easter is one of the highly anticipated seasons considering the long weekend it brings.

Attending Special Church Services

South Africa, being a Christian country, observe special church services on Easter Sunday. People across the country attend these special church services as part of the tradition of the day’s celebration. Though several masses are held throughout the day, Easter Sunday’s special masses are usually held in between 3:00pm to 6:00pm. The South Africans are usually seen wearing white clothing while attending special masses on this day.

South Africa's Easter Feast

What’s fascinating about the country’s celebration of Easter is that after the mass, many would participate in preparing for an Easter feast which would be shared by all, regardless of one’s religion. This is one of the practices which made the country’s Easter celebration unique. Furthermore, a lot of people also see the day as one which is perfect for baptism. Considering the reason why Easter Sunday is celebrated (in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection), the day is perceived to bring one a new life and a new beginning. Hence, many end up having their children baptized on this day to wash the sins committed and start anew.

Easter Egg Hunting

Chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies, and Easter eggs (which are used to represent new life and new beginnings) are the most popular symbols associated with Easter celebration. Like other countries, these symbols are also well-recognized in South Africa during the Easter season. On Easter Sunday, organizing Easter egg hunts are observed all over the country. From personal residences, workplaces, to local communities and organizations, many would arrange for these egg hunts to make the Easter Sunday’s celebration livelier. These hunts (egg hunts/chocolate hunts) have always been part of the South Africans celebration for Easter and people are usually seen partaking on these activities.

These activities are held with the purpose of letting people have a good time along with their own families while at the same time, enjoying the company of other people. Both the children and the adult population can take part of the events arranged for this day. Some localities would even organize Easter parades alongside dancing and live music. Nowadays, Easter Sunday has somewhat become a family day for many South Africans.

Giving Presents

Giving gifts/presents especially to the children, are also typical on this day. The gifts include chocolates (either on a shape of a bunny or egg), candies, and other merchandise which are Easter-related. This practice of gift-giving during Easter in South Africa is even extended not just to one’s own family and relatives but towards other people as well. Many South Africans, especially those who are in a better financial situation, often give gifts to the less privileged individuals in their community on this day. The presents are usually placed on an Easter bag or Easter basket containing various items like chocolates and books (for the children), clothing, footwear, and many other things that could be of help to the needy. This is another practice which make the South Africans Easter celebration distinct and special from other countries.

Easter Feast with Family Members

Family gatherings are also common during the day’s celebration. Several South Africans (especially those working in the cities) travel back to their hometowns to celebrate Easter with their families. Sharing an Easter feast together with families and relatives, is an integral part of South Africa’s Easter celebration.

Popular Easter Foods Prepared in South Africa

Dishes usually serve on this day include rice, lamb, chicken, ham, vegetables, and the traditional hot cross buns and pickled fish. Both the hot cross buns (which are spiced sweet buns made with fruit and is marked with a cross at the top) and the pickled fish (a Cape Malay-style pickled fish), are the foods traditionally eaten on Good Friday. However, the said foods are still seen served at the table on Easter Sunday.

In South Africa, the hot cross buns have become quite popular to be consumed during the celebration of Easter because of its religious concept. The pickled fish dish on the other hand, have also become famous on its own because of its unique taste and the fact that it could last for how many days. The pickled fish dish is especially prepared on Easter by the South Africans residing in the western part of the country, particularly in the Cape Town area (Cape Town is one of the three capital cities in the country).

Going to the Beach

Moreover, though Easter Sunday’s celebration was established with a religious notion, now, the day’s observance has become quite secular. Although many have still continuously observed the religious activities associated with it (like attending special church services), the day’s celebration is currently filled with numerous events that are not religious in nature. Spending Easter Sunday in the beach is a good example. In South Africa, most of the country’s families choose to spend the day in the beaches. The day is seen as one where they can chill and relax along with their families and friends, while enjoying water-related activities (e.g. swimming, diving, snorkeling, boat riding, etc.).

Dates of Observance for Easter Sunday
Year Date Day Holiday
2023 April 09 Sunday Easter Sunday
2024 March 31 Sunday Easter Sunday
2025 April 20 Sunday Easter Sunday
2026 April 05 Sunday Easter Sunday
2027 March 28 Sunday Easter Sunday
2028 April 16 Sunday Easter Sunday
Upcoming South Africa Holidays
Holiday Date
Nelson Mandela Day July 18, 2022
National Women's Day August 09, 2022
Heritage Day September 24, 2022