Easter 2018 and 2019

Easter is always a guaranteed four-day weekend in Papua New Guinea because Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday are all public holidays.

YearDateDayHoliday
201830 MarFriGood Friday
31 MarSatEaster Saturday
1 AprSunEaster Sunday
2 AprMonEaster Monday
201919 AprFriGood Friday
20 AprSatEaster Saturday
21 AprSunEaster Sunday
22 AprMonEaster Monday

Papua New Guinea Labour Law dictates that employees be off on public holidays, be paid 50 percent extra for “holiday pay,” or be given a replacement off-day if they work for normal wages. As a predominantly Christian nation and a former British colony, Papua New Guinea shares many Easter customs with other countries of the world and with the UK. However, British Easter traditions have sometimes been blended in with local practices in peculiar ways. The most notable example would be the PNG “Easter-tobacco tree.” Said to be set up in churches, the tobacco tree is a small tree or a few bound branches to which cigarettes or pure tobacco packets are attached. At the end of the church service, the tobacco is given out to the congregants.

While Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, and commercialisation of the holiday are not unheard of in PNG, they are not dominant either. Chocolate candies are particularly rare, but this is largely a reflection on the hot, sticky climate rather than a rejection of sweets.

The religious aspect of Easter predominates, though local customs among the nation’s 840 ethno-linguistic groups may add unique “twists” to the celebrations. In general, however, you can expect long services with lots of congregational singing, Easter choirs, and special performances. There will also, of course, be readings from the Resurrection narratives and sermons on the significance of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. Easter youth camps are also relatively common this time of year.

Some will attend church on Good Friday, the day on which Christ gave up His life as “a ransom for many;” on Holy Saturday, the day during which Jesus’ body lay in the tomb; and on Easter Morning, when He arose victorious over death and sin. Others may simply relax at home, eat a festive dinner, or go on a short vacation to take in the spring weather.

Should you visit Papua New Guinea around Easter time, here are a few ideas on what to do while there:

  • Attend Good Friday services in the town of Losuia in the offshore Trobriand Island Group. Here, Good Friday is regarded as the most significant date on the calendar. Young people from all around gather and perform on musical instruments during the service, and afterwards, the people disperse to enjoy Good Friday dinners in their private homes.
  • Watch the chess tournaments held in either Port Moresby or the city of Lae during the season. Watch for the PNG Open Championships as the climax of this Easter tide chess contest. This is a major event that is much anticipated by local chess fans.
  • Tour Port Moresby. Be sure to visit the Port Moresby Nature Park, with its thousands of orchids, numerous local species on display, and aviary house full of “birds of paradise.” Also look for the National Orchid Garden, for yet more orchid viewing, and the Bomana War Cemetery, National Parliament House, and the National Museum and Art Gallery.
  • Get out into nature and back into history by walking the famous Kokoda Track. This is the remains of sixty-mile road built over the prodigious Owen Stanley Range during World War II to better defend against a possible Japanese assault on the island. It is now a popular trek route that takes you through tropical jungles, majestic mountains, steep cliffs, and pristine highland streams.

PNG keeps Easter in a more religious manner than most other countries, while mixing in some interesting cultural traditions. The traveller will find much that is unique in PNG Eaters and find many year-round tourist attractions to enjoy as well.