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Easter

Easter 2017 and 2018

Both Good Friday and Easter Sunday are public holidays in Indonesia.

YearDateDayHoliday
201714 AprFriGood Friday
16 AprSunEaster Sunday
201830 MarFriGood Friday
1 AprSunEaster Sunday

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country on the planet, and around 87 percent of its people are followers of Islam. Nonetheless, the Christian population stands at around 10 percent, which in a nation of 255 million, is a considerably large religious community. This number breaks down to about seven percent Protestant and three percent Roman Catholic, the former brought to Indonesia during its Dutch East Indies days and the latter during its time under Portuguese control. In Indonesia, holidays of various faiths are recognised. For example, the deep cultural influences of Hinduism and Buddhism earn the Hindu Festival of Lights (Deepavali) and Waisak (Buddha Day) public status, despite only two percent of Indonesians being Hindu and only one percent Buddhist.

Also symbolic of tolerance is the fact that both Ascension Day of Jesus Christ and Ascension of the Prophet (Muhammad) Day are public holidays, though that symbolism does not always translate into concrete action. For example, many Christian churches have been closed from the government or denied building permits, which led to Christians holding an Easter service directly across from the president’s palace in Jakarta in 2013. Giant Easter eggs were carried about during the event, which made it seem one of the oddest protests on record, but perhaps, it sent a clear message.

Easter is celebrated mainly only among Christians in Indonesia, and most events are in churches, private homes, and hotels and resorts that cater to Christian tourists who expect Easter events. There are a few special events outside these confines, however, and there are also often fundraising drives during Holy Week to benefit the poor and needy. You will find Easter vigils, candlelight services, egg decorating, and even the Easter Bunny in parts of Indonesia, much like in other countries where Easter is observed. You will also hear people greet one another with, “Selamat Hari Paskah!” (Happy Easter!).

Three of the main areas of Indonesia where Christian populations are higher and events are more common include:

  • The island of Bali. All over the island, there will be Easter events going on, including egg hunts, brunches, parties, and more. Many of these will be at hotels and resorts, including the
    Ku De Ta in the town of Seminyak, where you will find kids’ activities like face painting and balloon shaping, along with live music and entertainment and a four course Easter dinner.
  • Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city, on the island of Java. There will be egg hunting, Easter-style meals, and fun activities here as well at many hotels. However, also be sure to see the imposing, Gothic-style Jakarta Cathedral, built over a 100 years ago. The Catholic archbishop holds Easter services in the cathedral, and it is adjacent two other architectural sights to see: the Merdeka Palace and the Istiqlal Mosque.
  • The eastern half of the island of Flores. Here, there have been re-enactments of the crucifixion of Christ since colonial times. You can see men tied onto large, wood crosses and carried through through the streets on Good Friday. Two statues, one of Mary and the other of Jesus, are also carried in a procession for over four miles in the town of Larantuka, ending at the Cathedral of the Queen of the Rosary.

While Easter events are less common in Indonesia than in many other countries, you can find them if you know where to look, and there is plenty to make the experience lastingly memorable.

2019 Easter Dates

In 2019, Good Friday will be on 19 April and Easter Sunday will be on 21 April. Easter won’t fall this late in the year for another 11 years after 2019.