Good Friday in South Africa

When is Good Friday in South Africa?

Good Friday in South Africa is on April 7, 2023. It falls on Friday.

How many days until Good Friday in South Africa?

There are 274 Days left until Good Friday in South Africa.

Is Good Friday a public holiday in South Africa?

In South Africa, Good Friday was instituted as a national holiday. The day is celebrated to commemorate Christ’s (central figure in Christianity) death. It’s a celebration observed before Easter Sunday. Since Easter’s date falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern’s March equinox (occurring either on or after March 21), its date of celebration changes every year. As a result, the date of observance for Good Friday varies as well. However, Good Friday and Easter Sunday should typically be observed in between the late March and late April.

Good Friday Origin

Good Friday is a celebration observed by many Christian countries around the world. The day is established in commemoration of Jesus Christ’s sufferings and death at the cross. Jesus is the central figure of the Christian religion and his teachings are its foundation. When Jesus was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate (the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea) because of his claims being the son of God and the King of the Jews, that was the start of his torture and sufferings. On Friday of the same weekend he was given his sentence, Jesus was beaten, was obliged to carry a cross, and later got crucified until he died. For the Christians to remember such sufferings Jesus has gone through for the sake of redeeming mankind from all sins (according to the bible), Good Friday was established. It was said that the first celebration of Good Friday was held on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. And with the expansion of Christianity around the globe, many countries were converted as Christians. Thus, nowadays, billions of people celebrate this holiday to commemorate Christ’s death.

For the South Africans, Christianity was first introduced in the country around the 17th century, specifically in 1652. Since then, the religion has continuously spread until it became the primary religion in South Africa. Currently, since majority of the country’s population are Christians, people throughout South Africa observe the holidays associated with the Christian religion. Good Friday is one of those. In 1910, the South African government has decided to make Good Friday an official public holiday in the country. Since then, the holiday has always been observed as a non-working day for the South Africans.

Good Friday Traditions in South Africa

For the Christian countries, the holiday celebrated prior to Easter Sunday is called Good Friday. South Africa, being a Christian country as well, observes this holiday and has even designated it to become a public holiday. Hence, most of the country’s businesses and companies cease operation on this day and employees are generally given a day off from work. Government institutions, schools, and universities are suspended too. Since many countries have adapted Christianity, it is expected for a lot of people worldwide to celebrate Good Friday. However, its celebration varies for each country though, depending on what their customs and traditions are.

Veneration of the Cross

Veneration of the Cross is another practice also observed by some South Africans during Good Friday. This is a custom wherein Christians (especially those following the teachings of the Catholic churches) show their devotion and reverence towards God by kneeling, bowing, and kissing the cross (cross is the principal symbol of Christianity). This is usually done at the church by forming a line and one person would approach the church’s cross/crucifix one after another. They would then kneel, bow, and often kiss the said cross/crucifix as a sign of their great devotion. This practice is done as one way for a Christian to affirm his/her faith towards Jesus.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross or also known as the Way of the Cross is another activity observe in the country during Good Friday. This tradition is said to originate from the Roman Catholic Churches; however, this was later adapted by some Protestant Churches. In South Africa, the dominant church among all Christian churches are the Protestant churches. Some of these churches organize the Stations of the Cross for the Christian followers. Stations of the Cross are a series of fourteen images or carvings showing the events of Christ’s last hours on Earth as a man. These images are arranged chronologically beginning with Christ’s condemnation until his crucifixion and burial. On Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross are placed either on the insides of the church itself, or outside, just on the church grounds. On this day, worshippers may come in through a procession and proceed to move from one image/picture to another. The people usually stop one station at a time to offer some prayers.

Attending Church Services

For the South Africans, Good Friday is marked by various church services held throughout the nation. It has always been a part of the South African’s traditions to attend special church services on this day. These special masses are typically done around 12:00pm to 3:00pm. During this holiday, churches are expected to get a bit crowded since many people observe the day by attending these special masses.

Good Friday is a day intended to mourn for Christ’s sufferings and death. With this, South African Christian churches, with the help of some local communities, usually organize an event to make a re-enactment of Christ’s final hours before he died. The event would show the tortore, beatings, the crucifixion, and all sufferings Christ’s had gone through prior to his death. The South Africans celebrate this day religiously and many would partake on the events organized by the churches. The holiday is meant to commemorate Christ’s death; thus, people are typically seen praying, meditating, and others even go on fasting. The celebration of Good Friday gives one an opportunity to think about his/her faith towards God and how to make amends for the sins committed.

Popular Foods Prepared on Good Friday

In terms of food, South Africans traditionally have a fill on hot cross buns on this day, just like other Christian countries (e.g. UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). ‘Hot cross buns’ are spiced sweet buns typically made with fruit. Each bun is marked with a cross at the top since this cross is believed to represent the one which Christ has died on. Other South Africans (especially those living in Cape Town, one of the capital cities in the country) also serve pickled fish during Good Friday. ‘Pickled fish’ is a dish of fish prepared with onions in a vinegar sauce and is flavoured with curry powder, turmeric, and other spices. The said seafood dish has become quite a favourite food for the South Africans to prepare on this day since it could last from Good Friday till the end of the Easter weekend.

Non-religious celebration

Lastly, for other Christians in South Africa who aren’t particularly religious, or those who follow a different religion (e.g. Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and other traditional African religions), they tend to spend Good Friday in a non-religious way instead. Some of them would have plans to go on getaway trips to enjoy the holidays considering the long weekend brought by the Easter season. They take advantage of the non-working days to relax and have a vacation. Others also spend the day together with their families and friends. It could either be at home or outdoors.

Dates of Observance for Good Friday
Year Date Day Holiday
2023 April 07 Friday Good Friday
2024 March 29 Friday Good Friday
2025 April 18 Friday Good Friday
2026 April 03 Friday Good Friday
2027 March 26 Friday Good Friday
2028 April 14 Friday Good Friday
Upcoming South Africa Holidays
Holiday Date
Nelson Mandela Day July 18, 2022
National Women's Day August 09, 2022
Heritage Day September 24, 2022