In Kenya, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, meaning off-work days that create a long Easter Weekend every year.
|2020||10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2021||2 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|5 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
The majority of the population in Kenya is Christian, and aside from the 10 percent or so that are Muslim, Kenyans generally observe Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. This gives families a chance to spend time together as well as at special church services and other festive activities.
Easter celebrations really begin a week before Easter Sunday, on Palm Sunday, which marks the day when, according to the Bible, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds threw down palm branches in His path as He made His way into the city, and Kenyan children often bring palm leaves to church, while singing hymns, to commemorate Jesus’ Triumphal Entry.
On Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was crucified, there are processions in many Kenyan cities, re-enacting the Stations of the Cross. The procession and the following crowd will end up at a church where a special service is held to remember the significance of Jesus’ death.
Late Saturday evening, many attend midnight candlelight services. They pray, sing Resurrection hymns, ring bells, and await the dawn of Easter Morning. Many also huddle around large bonfires just outside the church building.
When Easter Sunday arrives, you will hear many say the words, “Heri kwa sikukuu ya Pasaka!,” which is Swahili for “Blessed be the Passover Feast!” Family members who moved into the big city to find work return home to the villages where their parents still live and enjoy family, food, and fun. An Easter Service is held, sometimes for three hours, where the congregation listens to a sermon on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and sings songs also on that theme. In the afternoon, a special Easter meal is eaten, often including Kenyan-style chicken or beef stew, “nyama choma” (roasted meats), and soft drinks, which many poor Kenyan families can rarely be afford. Also, in some families, the father will wash his wife’s feet after breaking and sharing a piece of bread to remember the Last Supper where Jesus did this act of humility to His disciples.
Schools and many businesses will be closed for Easter Weekend, and this becomes an opportunity for many Kenyans to get out and about. There is no reason why tourists can’t do the same. Some places to visit in the capital city of Nairobi include:
- The Giraffe Centre on Duma Road. Kids’ will love seeing, touching, and feeding the many giraffe. Adults may find they enjoy it a bit too, and the photo opportunities will be very unique. Many of the giraffe kept here are Rothschild’s giraffe, which is an endangered species.
- The Karura Forest. This is an excellent reserve with numerous varieties of native Kenyan trees, cool, flowing waters, and meandering hiking paths. You can walk, jog for your health, enjoy the scenery and fresh air, or rent a bike and go biking through the Kenyan woods.
- The Kenya National Museum. Located on Nairobi’s Museum Hill road, this is the largest museum in all of Kenya. You will see exhibits covering the natural wonders of Kenya’s landscape, the struggle to protect its wildlife from poachers, and on colonial-era Kenyan history. There is plenty to learn, and with gigantic stuffed elephants and other eye-catching displays, the kids will enjoy it as well.
- The Nairobi Railway Museum. This is a fun way to spend part of your Kenyan Easter Weekend. You can see the nostalgic rail collection, view the three operational steam cars, and even ride the antique rail equipment on occasional tourist trips around Nairobi or to other nearby towns.
At Easter time in Kenya, you will find church services, processions, festive meals, and other celebrations to attend. You will also, however, find that Easter is an ideal time to tour Nairobi or other parts of Kenya and have some fun amid the beautiful spring scenery.