Easter is celebrated across the board in Ghana. It is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians alike, but each group has its own interpretation and activities to mark the occasion.
For Christians, the celebration starts well before Palm Sunday, but Palm Sunday is the largest, most widely known event before Easter. Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before His crucifixion, death and resurrection. It is important to Christians all over the world, and Ghana is no exception.
In Ghana, Palm Sunday is celebrated by various church congregations with processions through some principal streets. Paraders wave palm branches and handkerchiefs and sing “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!”
Celebrating the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem gives Christians the hope to seek God’s kingdom.
The next important day of the Easter season for Ghanaian Christians is Good Friday. Nearly everyone tries to attend church on Good Friday because they believe that their sins from the year are crucified on the cross with the Son of God.
In most orthodox churches, men and women are dressed in dark-color mourning clothes and are in solemn moods. Many people attend church services only this one time during the year.
People in charismatic churches, on the other hand, dress in bright colors and are in happy moods. They believe that Jesus’ death calls for celebration because He died for their sins.
Some ethnic groups, like the Kwehus of the Eastern Region of Ghana, see Easter as one of the holidays that they need to travel to their home town to enjoy. A Kwehu-born person will go to any length to travel home to celebrate Easter.
For other Ghanaians, Easter is just one of the many festivals to celebrate. These people do not know the true meaning of Easter; they take it for fun and go to beaches where they drink and do various immoral things. For them, instead of Easter being a time to do some real soul-searching and transformation, this holiday is a season for entertainment and merry making.
Gone are the days when people would be in mourning throughout the Lenten season. Gone are the days when Christian women would wake at up at dawn and go in search of the Christ, only to be told, “The Lord has risen!”
Great was the joy in those days, for this used to be a very important tradition during Easter season in Ghana at Sunday dawn.
For those who go to church, sermons are centered on the suffering and death of Jesus for all humans.
Dan, a staff member in Ghana, shares:
“Easter reminds us about the death and sacrifice of Christ for all humanity. For me as an individual, and in my church, we believe that Easter is to remind us of the death and the agony that Christ had to go through just to save us from sin. Easter is all about celebration and thanksgiving. When we remember that Jesus had to go through all that for us then it means that He places so much value on our lives. So we as His children and followers have to be appreciative and proud about what He did for us. We have to be excited and we have to thank Him for that act of deliverance and salvation.
“Easter is a reminder of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross; it is a time to celebrate my salvation. Some churches dress in mourning clothes but my church does not do that. We come to church in our normal church attire or we dress in white to show that we are happy.”
On Easter Sunday, Ghanaian Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Country-wide, everybody dresses in white for church. Everyone is in a happy mood.
The Monday after Easter is mostly a public holiday. People go for picnics to various locations, such as beaches, parks, or church premises, or on out-of-town excursions to tourist attractions. Special dishes are prepared. This day is all merry making.
To Ghanaian Christians, Easter is a day of remembering what Christ did on the cross for all mankind; not just remembering but knowing that it was the foundation for their salvation. They believe that without the passion of Christ, people would not know that there is a place for them to go after death.
The resurrection of Christ gives people hope that there is something to look forward to, something to lean on, that someday will bear fruit — and that is in heaven.
Amos is one of our Program Communications Managers. His worship center is with Mount Calvary Cross Ministry.
“For me Easter is always a period of sober reflection. I try to visualize Christ on the cross. I do not want to visualize Christ in any other way. That period is the period I become stronger; I overcome all obstacles that come my way because I visualize Him on that cross and He said ‘It is finished’ and everything ended. That period I develop a stronger relationship with God, my prayer life improves, and I have many problems turn around in my favor. That is the time I come to see that yes, Christ is a prayer-answering God.”