Ascension Quick Facts - ZA

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2024 Date9 May 2024
2025 Date29 May 2025


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Ascension History

The Observance of Ascension is a significant Christian religious event celebrated to commemorate the belief in the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. This day marks the conclusion of the Easter season and marks an integral part of the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. South Africans, with a strong Christian tradition and a diverse range of denominations, participate in this celebration to express their belief in the divine nature of Jesus and the promise of eternal heavenly life for believers.

The Ascension of Jesus is detailed in the biblical narratives of the New Testament, particularly in the Gospels according to Luke and Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. Notable aspects of the Ascension include the presence of Jesus' apostles as witnesses to the miraculous event, and the angels who declared Christ's eventual return. Believers in South Africa congregate in churches to observe this event with prayers, hymns, and sermons that emphasize the significance of Jesus' ascension and the impact it has on the Christian faith.

The observance falls on the 40th day after Easter Sunday, which is always a Thursday, aptly named Ascension Thursday or Holy Thursday. In South Africa, this day is proclaimed as a public holiday by the government, further acknowledging the importance of the Ascension in the spiritual lives of its Christian populace.

Ascension facts

  • The Apostle's Creed, one of the statements of faith in the Christian Church, mentions Jesus' ascension:
    I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
    And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
    The third day he rose from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
  • Ascension is the 40th day after Easter, celebrated on the sixth Sunday of the Easter season in Protestant churches and on the 40th day after Easter in Roman Catholic churches. It commemorates the day that Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-11) after spending 40 days appearing to his disciples after his resurrection.
  • In South Africa, Ascension Day was observed as a public holiday until 1994, after which it was removed by the government to promote national unity and celebrate cultural diversity.
  • In some parts of South Africa, it is a tradition to fly kites on Ascension Day, symbolizing Christ's ascent into the heavens.

Top things to do in South Africa for Ascension

  • Go bird watching. A custom in Sweden, is to get up early in the morning of Ascension and venture out into the woods to listen for the call of a cuckoo. It is considered good luck to hear one on this holiday.
  • Go to church and learn about why Jesus' ascension is important to the Christian faith. Jesus is considered to be both human and divine, and the ascension is an illustration of Christ's divine nature.
  • Watch a Film to learn more about Ascension in South Africa?
    1)Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) - A film based on the life of Nelson Mandela, who overcame apartheid and became the first black president of South Africa. It focuses on his journey and leadership as he navigated the challenges faced by the country during the end of apartheid.
    2)Invictus (2009) - A movie directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team. The film tells the inspiring story of how Mandela used rugby as a unifying force in the country after apartheid.
  • Visit a religious site: South Africa has several historic churches, cathedrals, and religious sites that you can visit in cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Some of these include the St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, and the Durban Botanic Gardens, which houses a biblical garden.

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