Easter 2017 and 2018
Easter is celebrated in Fiji, as in all Christian countries, but yet, in some rather unique ways.
|2017||14 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|15 Apr||Sat||Easter Saturday|
|17 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2018||30 Mar||Fri||Good Friday|
|31 Mar||Sat||Easter Saturday|
|2 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
Palm Sunday, although not a public holiday, is widely celebrated and is called by Methodists “Children’s Sunday.” This seems to derive from the words of Christ concerning children praising him upon his entry in to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and his statement that the stones would cry out were the children to be silent.
Good Friday, Easter itself, and the Monday following are all public holidays in Fiji. This long weekend is a time of celebration with both church and family, and whole villages often celebrate together as well. It is common for telecommunications companies to offer large discounts at this time of year so that family and friends can communicate at this family-centered time of year, and there are many discounts in the local stores as well.
Easter, or “Resurrection Sunday,” is the time of a special Mass or church service, and Fijian villagers will attend it in their very best attire. There will be both great reverence and great joy. After services, there will often be banqueting and performance of native singing and dancing.
Easter services are done a little differently in Fiji. For example, the church building may be nothing more than a wood hut, and the service will be in the local language. Women and men will stand on opposite sides of the building as they sing Christian songs during the service. Also, if you visit one of these villages, you should bring a a “sevu-sevu” for the village’s chief, which is a present given as a reward for hospitality.
The most visible Fijian Easter tradition is known as the “Fijian Crosswalk.” During Holy Week, large crowds will gather in Suva, the capital, and will make their way across Viti Levu to the town of Nadi. The walk will take a week and is meant to symbolize Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem where he would be crucified. Many, though not all, of the participants will carry large, wooden crosses on the whole 120-mile route. This event has been exclusively Roman Catholic through the years, but in 2014, Methodists began to participate as well. Even those of denominations not participating often have great reverence for the Crosswalk, and those involved take it so seriously that they fight stiff winds and heavy rain rather than cancel the event.
In one part of Fiji, there is a small archipelago with a tradition of sharing a single cross among the various islands. This cross is put in a boat and floated from island to island during Holy Week. Men will swim in the water as they help push the cross-bearing boat along its way, and women will travel in another boat and sing to encourage the men. It usually is about a three-hour event between each island, and a special dinner is prepared for the group that will arrive with the cross. At the end of the celebrations, “kava,” a drink made from the piper methysticum plant is drunk. This can be an at least mildly narcotic drink, so visitors will have to take that into account if offered some.
For those touring Fiji at Easter time, we provide three significant events they may wish to take part in:
- During the Crosswalk, many upscale hotels on Viti Levu will hold their own Easter activities. One of the most notable such events is at Outrigger on the Lagoon, where you will find kids’ activities like an Easter egg hunt, an Easter-hat parade, and a chick nursery. Adults can enjoy poolside music played by a live band and an on-site Easter Morning service.
- At Castaway Island resort, you will find many arts and crafts on display as well as an egg hunt and church service. On Easter Monday, there will be a race called “Amazing Race” that lasts all day long till 9pm. If you enjoy running, this may be the resort for you.
- Around Easter time, a Hindu festival called “Holi” or “the Festival of Colors” takes place. A bonfire is lit, and everyone sings and dances at night around the fire. On the next morning, people chase participating acquaintances and strangers alike and throw dry-powder or colored water on them. Water guns and water balloons are sometimes used. You will see traveling musical groups wandering from place to place and throwing bright colors on people everywhere they go.
Anyone who visits Fiji at Easter time will encounter a number of unique traditions along with some that are more familiar. Seeing how Easter is celebrated in this far-off island nation will create memories that will last a lifetime.