Easter in South Africa. Magdalena Foxcroft interview

Magdalena Foxcroft and her South African Easter

This Easter will be my first since 13 years ago, which I hope to spend in Poland with my family. I lived in South Africa, Cape Town, for over 13 years before I moved back to Poland. I used to work in tourism, I was a national, licenced guide both in South Africa and in the neighbouring countries. This meant that I spent my Easter mostly working to have holidays during Christmas. There was this one time however, when I spent Easter with friends, and we had a festive breakfast together and we spent great time together.

Mia and Nika in the pictures below.

What was on the table? Sour soup żurek, colourful eggs, white sausage, horseradish, cold cuts, smoked fish. In South Africa, a country dominated by Christians, you traditionally serve fish with vinegar sauce with curry and hot crossed bun (sweet cinnamon rolls).

The Catholic Church in Cape Town holds the blessing of food on Holy Saturday.On Sunday there is a Mass of Jesus’ Resurrection and a procession. After the Mass families meet at home or go to the vineyard with friends for a shared lunch. Children do the bunny hunting and look for chocolate eggs hidden in the garden. The Polish diaspora usually meets in the church on Thursday to colour Easter eggs together.

Good Friday in South Africa is a day off from work. There is no tradition of a Wet Monday. Easter is the time when people take short trips outside the city, go biking or do walking trips. The time is spent very actively.

You can find out in detail about South African Easter from my friend Liz Madube Chikumba. She comes from the ethnic group Shona, lives in a village in Voctoria Falls in Zimbabwe and, like all Catholics, celebrates Easter each year.

Liz Madube Chikumba: I would basically say our Easter preparation begins 40 days before the resurrection of Jesus. That period is called Lent where we do prayers. On the first day of the 40 days, we have a mass Ash Wednesday where palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burnt and everyone has a cross on the forehead with ashes of burnt palms.

During the lent period you can do prayers on your own or with your close ones. Everyone buys a candle to use for the prayers – there is a certain time when everyone is in prayer while the candles are on. We do it for seven days. On the last day of the prayer, we leave the candle on until it burns out.

The day before Jesus’ resurrection we have a night vigil at the Church, waiting for His resurrection. It starts around 10 pm till the next day around 3 am which is the time he rose from the dead. During that vigil period, we would be praying and singing. After the vigil, we’d go back home to prepare for the next Mass to celebrate the resurrection.

In our family, we celebrate the Easter holidays in the village where my mom stays, so the whole family comes from all corners of the country to be with her. Basically, it’s a time where we get to meet. The same applies to Christmas time. We arrive home on Friday evening so that we attend the night vigil on Saturday night. After the mass we go back home. Depending on what’s available, we kill a goat or a cow to prepare lunch, braii (grill) for the celebrations. It’s also time to catch-up with siblings. We don’t do much really 🙂 Kids paint the eggs, but they don’t do bunny hunting in the village, it’s usually done in towns.

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