Some eighty-five percent of Zimbabwe’s 13 or so million people identify as Christian of one denomination or another, mostly Roman Catholic, Anglican, and various other Protestant churches. However, there is also a great deal of mixing in of elements of the “old traditional religions,” and around one percent of the population is Muslim.
|2020||10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|11 Apr||Sat||Easter Saturday|
|12 Apr||Sun||Easter Sunday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2021||2 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|3 Apr||Sat||Easter Saturday|
|4 Apr||Sun||Easter Sunday|
|5 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
Not only is Easter Sunday widely celebrated in Zimbabwe, but Good Friday and Easter Monday are official public holidays. Churches will hold special services on Good Friday to remember Christ’s sacrificial death for sinners, late on Holy Saturday to anticipate the victorious Resurrection, and on Easter Day to celebrate the meaning of His victory over death and sin to believers. Each church will follow its own traditions and liturgies, but all will centre their attention on their belief in a living reality of a Risen Christ.
Easter is also a time when spiritual retreats and Bible conferences are frequently held in Zimbabwe, along with baptisms, evangelism campaigns, Christian concerts and dramas, and night-long prayer meetings. Easter-themed songs will be heard on the radio, while Easter programming will appear on TV.
However, Easter is also a time of family reunions, feasts in private homes, and less spiritually oriented activities like Easter egg hunts. Additionally, there are some Zimbabweans who practice ancestor worship at this time of year as a way to celebrate a bountiful harvest.
Should you be travelling in Zimbabwe around Easter time, here are some ideas on what to do:
- Take the kids to the annual egg hunt at the Harare Botanical Gardens. There are giant Easter eggs, chocolate candies, and all kinds of fun. Harare, the capital city, also has numerous holiday resorts where you can enjoy the season.
- Get out and explore the country. See hippos, rhinos, and other African wildlife at Mana Pools National Park or at Gonarezhou National Park. Tour the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, golf and fish for trout in the beautiful Eastern Highlands, or hike through the scenic Vumba Mountains.
- Enjoy traditional Zimbabwean cuisine at an Easter party or at a local restaurant. Try sadza and bota, a thick and a thin kind of cornmeal porridge. Eat fresh African vegetables, such as chomolia, spinach, or collard greens. Taste Tanganyika sardines, and enjoy roast or barbecue goat meat or beef. Also be sure to try spicy biltong, a kind of jerky meat, “peanut butter rice,” fresh-roasted peanuts, sugar cane, and maputi, which is similar to popcorn but with a Zimbabwean twist to it.
Celebrating Easter in Zimbabwe is a very different experience from celebrating it in the Western world. The commercialisation of the holiday is not nearly as strong, and the local culture is strikingly visible in the celebrations.