What is Easter Like in Tonga?
Public holidays are usually a time that gets us travellers all confused. What are the local celebrations? Are businesses still open? What is there to do? Easter is one of those times in Tonga where things are a bit different, especially as the public holiday is practically observed four days straight! As a country of devoted Christians, Tonga takes Easter very seriously, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad time to visit. Learn about the local celebrations and what Easter means for travellers in this guide to Easter in Tonga!
When is Easter?
For those unfamiliar with the Christian holiday, Easter is in either March or April each year. The date of Easter is determined by being the first Sunday after the paschal full moon. In other words, it happens after the vernal equinox. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter will be celebrated on the following Sunday. Easter can occur on any date between March 22 and April 25 but the date is recognised well in advance each year – so just do an online search for “Easter date [year]” and you should find your answer.
Note that the public holiday observed in Tonga for Easter is more than just Easter Sunday. Tonga also observes Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday) and Easter Monday (the Monday after Easter Sunday).
How Do Tongans Celebrate Easter?
Tonga is a devout Christian nation, so Easter is celebrated with enthusiasm. Usually, Tongans go to church every Sunday, so Easter is a time of one of the most special church services of the year. Locals will turn up to church to sing beautiful harmonies, sometimes accompanied by a brass band from a local high school. Visitors are welcome to attend church services in Tonga, which is a great way to get an insight into the local culture.
In Tonga’s larger towns, there may be Easter celebrations, such as singing and dance performances in traditional attire. This changes from year to year. You can ask at the local Visitor Information Centres for the upcoming events.
Finally, Tongans will spend time with family, usually sharing large dinners or preparing an “umu” (food cooked in a traditional underground oven).
What Easter Means for Tourists
Easter is usually when travellers can take time off work to visit Tonga, but what is Easter like for travellers in Tonga? First, travellers need to know that Good Friday to Easter Monday are public holidays, so many shops and services close for this period. This also includes some of the tourism operators, such as boat tours, cultural shows, island tours, scuba diving, etc. Even on a normal Sunday in Tonga, there are laws against businesses operating on this “holy day”. However, one of the few businesses that are exempt from such laws is tourist accommodations, such as resorts.
Resorts in Tonga
If you’re coming to Tonga for Easter, we strongly recommend staying at a resort where you’ll be able to enjoy some beach time, make use of the resort’s watersports equipment and eat at the restaurant. Get inspiration for resorts to stay at from the following articles:
Other Holidays in Tonga
Easter is just one of many Christian holidays that Tonga observes. Other public holidays in Tonga include:
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- March/April – Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday
- April 25 – ANZAC Day
- June 3/4 – Emancipation Day
- July 4 – King Tupou VI’s Birthday
- September 17 – Crown Prince’s Birthday
- November 4 – Tonga National Day
- December 2 – King Tupou I Birthday
- December 25 – Christmas Day
- December 26 – Boxing Day
Learn more about these dates in the Public Holidays in Tonga (& Other Important Dates).