The best African Easter traditions will always make you smile. Africa’s Easter holiday is a few weeks away, and millions of Christians are waiting to commemorate the suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is a time to remember the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unlike the Western style of commemoration, Easter celebrations in Africa, especially in rural areas, are characterized by a lot more communal activities. Africans are proud of their traditions and put effort into keeping them alive.
So, how do Africans celebrate Easter, and what do they make of this season? Today, we explore common Easter traditions across Africa, highlighting their uniqueness and importance.
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Attending church services is the foundation of Easter in Africa as it takes a spiritual journey from Holy Thursday commemorating Jesus’ death to culminating with His resurrection on Easter Sunday. These services include singing hymns, praying, reading Bible verses related to Easter, and watching movies about Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The services also take a more festive approach and include performances of African dance, theatrical performances, and traditional music. Vigils typically start around 10 AM to 3 PM with the church choir leading in hymns.
Giving to those in need is an essential part of the Easter festivities in Africa. Exchanging gifts with family members isn’t the only way we celebrate during this season; donating to vulnerable women and children is a much more meaningful tradition for many Africans. From widows, single mothers and school children, to those battling illnesses – donations such as books, clothes or even boxes of chocolate eggs bring joy into their lives. It’s no wonder that gift-giving has become one of the most important ways African Christians mark this special holiday.
Going to the Beach
The Easter holiday usually falls between March and April, and these months are reasonably warm in most parts of Africa. So, friends and families prefer to celebrate Easter at the beach. Thus, travelling to the beach is among the Easter traditions that both non-religious and staunch Christians practice.
It is not surprising to find many beaches across Africa packed with both locals and visitors. The coastal cities and towns fill up with different festivities, ranging from concerts to water sports. While some people engage in beach swimming, sailing, and diving, others prefer to sit back and relax as they feel the breeze and watch ocean waves.
So, beaches offer a relaxed feast for both families and friends. In most Christian African countries, the food business at the beach always booms during the Easter holiday. This is because a lot of people from the upcountry visit the coast. Consequently, many people seize the opportunity to organize weddings and other ceremonies.
Baptism is one of the African Easter traditions, as it symbolizes renewal and spiritual rebirth. People believe baptism rinses away any sins they have committed and allows them to start fresh – this notion makes it incredibly popular at Easter time when communities across African nations partake in baptisms together.
The fact that the Easter days fall on a long weekend offers a perfect opportunity for families and loved ones to gather. African families maintain their close-knit nature by visiting each other and spending time together. So, organizing family parties and get-togethers is one of the most common Easter traditions in many parts of Africa.
After months or even years apart, parents gather their children and grandchildren during Easter to interact and bond. During family parties, special meals are prepared, and family members eat together. Regarding drinks, some African families prefer to prepare and take their local brew.
How do Kenyans Celebrate Easter?
Kenya is a country that celebrates unique feasts and entertainment. An iconic Kenyan meal includes Nyama Choma, grilled meats seasoned in spices, and Ugali- thick maize flour porridge. In Nairobi, Karura Forest is a popular spot for families to go hiking and have picnics together. Meanwhile, Mombasa sizzles during its peak season – especially attractive to families who flock to the area’s resorts. Not surprisingly, large street markets pop open, selling craft items and foods related to Easter traditions trending all over Africa.
How Does Nigeria Celebrate Easter?
Nigerian churches, parks, and city streets are packed with people during Easter. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, many churches and Christian homes are decorated with palm branches. Also, Nigeria is one of the African nations where festival vibes feature during Easter. For example, in Southern Nigeria, the Igbo people showcase their distinctive masquerade dance—Muo. Young men perform the dance wearing colorful costumes to celebrate their ancestral spirits.
What are the Most Popular Easter Traditions?
Ethiopia stands out amongst many African countries for its lengthy fasting period of 56 days, during which no meat or dairy products are consumed. As a tradition, Ethiopians gather on Sunday dressed in white to take part in the grand feast known as Doro wot; this meal consists of spicy chicken stew served with Injera bread and honey wine. Notably, due to the extended time spent abstaining from food before it commences, their celebration usually occurs about two weeks after the Western holidays.
While South Africa has many churches that follow Western traditions, the country also has many Christians who practice African Easter traditions. During the Easter church services at African Zionist Churches, Christians perform the Mkhukhu traditional dance that involves a lot of foot stamping.
This practice is common, particularly in the KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo regions. Some authorities have cited that the dance is unsuitable for Easter because it is overly Africanized. But pro-Mkhukhu people argue that dance is a part of South African traditions that existed long before the coming of Christianity in Africa.
Celebrating Easter in Rwanda is vastly different from other African countries, as it often reminds them of past tragedies. April 7 marks the beginning of a civil war where over 1 million Tutsi people were slaughtered during RPA/F rebellions. As such, church services focus on honouring these victims through prayers and songs. In recognition of the lives lost due to genocide, festivities are limited, so that memorial preparations do not conflict with the holiday celebrations.
Ghana comes alive during Easter SMM Panel, transforming into Africa’s hub of art and sports. Accra is the primary host for the annual Easter Comedy, which brings in renowned stand-up comedians from all across the continent. Meanwhile, at Kwahu, paraglider pilots worldwide assemble to participate in the Paragliding Festival – a great chance to face your fears while experiencing this stunning coastal town. If you’re looking for an adventure and opportunity to explore new cultures (and maybe even conquer some personal boundaries), why not plan a trip around this time?