A feather wreath with Easter Eggs

All You Need to Know About Easter Weekend 2024

Easter Weekend is one of the busiest periods for South African roads. It’s a time for celebrations, family, and rest, with many people hitting the road to get to their favourite long weekend escapes.

However, with huge numbers of vehicles on our roads, you need to take extra precautions to stay safe. We’ve put together a quick guide to ensure you’re equipped for Easter Weekend 2024. Read on to learn more about Easter in South Africa.

Easter Weekend FAQs

A family watches a sunset on a beach.

Easter Weekend is a time for family and friends

When is Easter 2024?

Easter doesn’t fall on a fixed date. Instead, scholars calculate the date according to a lunisolar calendar.

This year, Easter Weekend runs from Friday, 29 March to Monday, 1 April. Many people will be taking leave to make the most of the long weekend, so you can expect roads to get busy from as early as Wednesday, 27 March.

Why is Easter Celebrated?

For many Christian churches, Easter is a time to honour the Resurrection of Jesus three days after his death by crucifixion. Some churches end their Lenten season at Easter, celebrating the passing of a period of fasting, prayer, and penitence.

The annually “Holy Week” starts on the preceding weekend with Palm Sunday, followed by four days of spiritual importance. On Good Friday, Christians honour the crucifixion of Jesus and on Holy Saturday, many spend time in reflection. Easter reaches its climax on Easter Sunday, when many Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

In South Africa, many members of the Zionist Christian Church (ZCC) embark on a pilgrimage over Easter. Traditionally, millions of members journey to Moria in Limpopo, and 2024 will mark the first major pilgrimage since the Covid-19 pandemic.

What About Non-Christians?

Today, the Easter holiday is a time of celebration for all South Africans, mainly because it’s a four-day weekend. Families get into the Easter spirit with Easter egg hunts, Easter bunnies, and other traditional activities, but some communities have their own, unique traditions.

For example, many members of the Muslim community in Cape Town visit the kramat (shrine) of Sheikh Yusuf, an Indonesian political prisoner who established Islam in the Cape in the late 1600s.

Huge numbers of people gather on rugby fields in Faure, Cape Town to celebrate the heritage and perseverance of Muslims in South Africa. It’s a legacy of slavery in Cape Town – historically, slaves only received time off over Easter.

We have them to thank for pickled fish, the traditional delicacy enjoyed by many South Africans during this time. As the story goes, slaves would prepare the meal well in advance, ensuring they would have something to eat after church.

Among South Africa’s Hindu community, Good Friday is a time for visiting temples. This tradition stems from the practice of indentured labour – according to oral history, sugarcane plantation owners would leave their farms over Easter, giving people the opportunity to celebrate their faith.

Why is Monday a Public Holiday?

In South Africa, when a public holiday falls on a Sunday, we receive a “bonus” public holiday the next day. Sunday is already a day off for many South Africans, so the government pushes the public holiday to Monday.

How to Stay Safe on the Roads During Easter Weekend

A South African man driving a car.

Keep your eyes on the road at all times

Easter is a time for celebrations, but it’s also one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Last year, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) recorded 252 fatalities on South African roads over Easter weekend, representing a 37% increase from 2022.

That’s why it’s vital to take extra precautions behind the wheel. The Department of Transport reminds all road users to:

  • Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy and in good condition
  • Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Obey speed limits and drive according to the conditions
  • Take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
  • Always wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers do the same
  • Be mindful of other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians

After all, nobody wants to suffer a tragedy at a time when we should be celebrating. It’s your duty to look after yourself and your fellow motorists. If you plan to have a few drinks, make sure you have a designated driver. Alternatively, use e-hailing services like Uber or Bolt.

Car Hire for Easter Weekend 2024

An intersection in Cape Town, South Africa.

Be alert and watch for bad driving from other road users

If you absolutely need to be on the roads this Easter Weekend, make sure you drive a car that you can count on. At Drive South Africa, we specialise in all kinds of car rentals, from sleek, sporty luxury car hire to gravel-crunching 4×4 hire.

Whatever you choose, make sure you obey the rules of the road. From all of us at Drive South Africa: safe travels!

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