Many Orthodox Christians in South Africa celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. The Orthodox Christian date for Easter Sunday is often observed at a later date than the Easter date observed by many western churches. The day is known as Pascha, as well as the Sunday of the Resurrection
What do people do.
Many Orthodox Christians in South Africa celebrate Pascha according to the Easter date in the Julian calendar. Easter is the most important event in the church calendar. The Easter Sunday church liturgies are joyous as they celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection, according to Christian belief, as well as spiritual victory. Many Orthodox Christians in South Africa fast during Lent prior to Easter. Easter Sunday is a time for families and friends to get together for a festive meal, where meat and dairy products can be eaten again. Lamb and tsourekia(or tsoureki), which is a type of Easter bread, are popular Easter dishes in many Greek Orthodox communities in South Africa. Traditional Easter egg games are also popular. Each person takes a dyed red egg and tries to crack other challengers’ eggs. This game symbolizes Jesus Christ breaking from his tomb. The person whose egg lasts the longest is assured good luck for the rest of the year. Some people bring dyed Easter eggs to church to be blessed at the Easter liturgy.
Special egg painting workshops for pysanky (special type of Easter eggs) are held in some cities, such as Johannesburg, prior to the Orthodox Easter date. These beautifully decorated eggs are customary in some eastern European countries such as Ukraine. Many people are banned from setting off fireworks during the Easter celebrations.
The Orthodox Christian date for Easter Sunday is not a federal public holiday in South Africa. However, it is held on a Sunday, which is a non-school day and non-working day for many South Africans. Sunday trading hours still apply in areas where there is Sunday trading, particularly in major cities.
Many Orthodox churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period often occurs later than the Easter period that falls around the time of the March equinox.
There are different types of Orthodox churches in South Africa, including the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Slavic Orthodox Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. There are many Greek Orthodox Christians in South Africa. The federal government’s 2006 census recorded that there were 85 000 Greek-born people in South Africa, with the largest numbers in Johannesburg. The census also showed that 84 000 Greek-born South Africans are of the Eastern Orthodox faith.
The Easter egg is hard-boiled and dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. It was an important symbol connected with spring fertility rituals in many early civilizations. Many Greek Orthodox Christians rap their eggs against their friends' eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky.
The Orthodox custom of decorating the round Easter bread with red eggs at the four edges of the cross on the bread dates back to around the 12th century. Another important symbol associated with Easter is the lamb. It is often depicted with a banner that bears a cross, and it is known as the Agnus Dei, meaning "Lamb of God" in Latin.
This Year Easter Sunday was celebrated on the 12 April. My Family and I celebrated Easter at St Athanasios Church in Benoni, 25 Km East of Johannesburg City. It was a joyous occasion of Eating Lamb on the spit. A total 0f 48 lambs were cooked that day. Eggs were broken and everyone enjoyed Live music and dancing. The festivities continued until early Sunday evening. Please see a short clip of the festivities attached.
So…from myself Efh Kanavou, The Hellenic Community of Benoni, South Africa…
I wish you all
BY EFΙ KANAVOU