In Uganda, Easter Sunday is an enthusiastically kept celebration. And both Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, which creates a four-day Easter Weekend.
|2020||10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2021||2 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|5 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
As Easter approaches, some Christians go on the Lenten fast, avoiding red meats on Fridays, and a little later, Easter hymns begin to be heard on local radio stations. Soon, Easter greeting cards begin to appear in the stores, and preparations for Easter parties begin to be made.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, and the people buy palm branches in the cities and take them to church. In the rural areas, children typically pick them and bring them to their home for use by the whole family. On Palm Sunday, a special service is held in which the branches are brought to church.
A special service to remember Jesus’ sacrificial death is held in many churches on Good Friday, an Easter vigil is held in some late at night on Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday services declare the power of the Resurrection. Easter plays and Easter concerts will also be attended both in and outside of church.
In Uganda, as in most of sub-Saharan Africa, it is common for city-dwellers to visit their parents and other relatives in the villages during significant holidays, including Easter. Thus, many Ugandans will be traveling this time of year. The big cities are not at all emptied out, though, for there are many who stay in town and hold big, colourful Easter parties. Wearing bright, new clothes, exchanging gifts, and feasting on local delicacies are all a traditional part of the celebrations.
Should you be in Uganda for Easter, here are a few ideas on what to do:
- “Go native” for the holiday. Attend Easter services with the locals. Travel to the rural villages to see the remnants of the “old ways” and eat traditional Ugandan foods like millet, sorghum, sweet potatoes, and “matoke,” a variety of banana that is frequently cooked in local dishes. Also practice Swahili, wear some native clothes, and go “Easter shopping” in the major cities, like many Ugandans do this time of year.
- Head to the beaches of Lake Victoria, a popular place to be on an Ugandan Easter Weekend. You can swim, play a game of beach soccer or beach volleyball, and go picnicking with a scenic view of the lake and its wildlife. You may also want to get out and hike along the shoreline some and engage in some bird watching, particularly if you can spot some flamingos.
- Join other tourists on an “Easter safari.” You won’t necessarily see any Easter bunnies, but you can likely get a good look at some chimpanzees, gorillas, rhinos, and various bird species. Uganda’s national parks are very remote and abound in natural beauty. You can see Murchison Falls, visit the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, spent a few nights in a cabin in the Budongo rainforest, or go on a boat tour of the upper Nile River.
Anyone who ventures to Uganda for Easter will not be disappointed. The experience will be unique and the memories will last a lifetime.