Public holidays in South Africa

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A list of public holidays in South Africa:[1]

Date English Name
1 January New Year's Day
21 March Human Rights Day
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
The Monday following Easter Sunday Family Day
27 April Freedom Day
1 May Workers' Day
16 June Youth Day
9 August National Women's Day
24 September Heritage Day
16 December Day of Reconciliation
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Day of Goodwill

The Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994)[2] determines that whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it will be a public holiday.[1]

Once-off holidays[edit]

Since 1994 election days have been declared ad hoc public holidays.

31 December 1999 and 2 January 2000 were declared public holidays to accommodate the Y2K changeover, and 3 January 2000 was automatically a public holiday because the previous holiday was a Sunday.[3]

2 May 2008 was declared a public holiday when Human Rights Day and Good Friday coincided on 21 March 2008.[4]

27 December 2011 was declared a holiday by (acting) president Kgalema Motlanthe as Christmas Day fell on a Sunday which generally makes the following Monday a public holiday. However the following Monday the 26 December 2011 was the Day of Goodwill and therefore decreased the number of paid public holidays for the year.

Religious public holidays[edit]

The Christian holidays of Christmas Day and Good Friday remained in secular post-apartheid South Africa's calendar of public holidays. The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission), a chapter nine institution established in 2004, held countrywide consultative public hearings in June and July 2012 to assess the need for a review of public holidays following the receipt of complaints from minority groups about unfair discrimination. The CRL Rights Commission stated that they would submit their recommendations to the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Labour, various Portfolio Committees and the Office of the Presidency by October 2012.[5][6] On 10 November 2012 the Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor told Christian protesters objecting to the removal of Christian public holidays that she had not received any enquiries from the CRL Rights Commission yet.[7] The CRL Rights Commission published its recommendations on 17 April 2013, including the scrapping of some existing public holidays to free up days for some non-Christian religious public holidays.[8][9]

Historical public holidays[edit]

South Africa's present calendar of public holidays was introduced in 1994. During the period between Union in 1910, and the establishment of the present republic in 1994, the following were the official public holidays:

Date English Name
1 January New Year's Day (1910–present)
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday (1910–present)
The Monday following Easter Sunday Easter Monday (1910–1979), Family Day (1980–present)
6 April Van Riebeeck's Day (1952–1974), Founder's Day (1980–1994)
1st Friday in May Workers' Day (1987–1989)
1 May Workers' Day (1990–present)
40th day after Easter Ascension Day (1910–1993)
24 May Victoria Day / Empire Day (1910–1951)
31 May Union Day (1910–1960), Republic Day (1961–1993)
2nd Monday in July Queen's Birthday (1952–1960)
10 July Family Day (1961–1974)
1st Monday in August King's Birthday (1910–1951)
1st Monday in September Settlers' Day (1952–1979)
10 October Kruger Day (1952–1993)
16 December Dingaan's Day (1910–1951), Day of the Covenant (1952–1979), Day of the Vow (1979–1994), Day of Reconciliation (1995–present)
25 December Christmas Day (1910–present)
26 December Boxing Day (1910–1979), Day of Goodwill (1980–present)


  1. ^ a b "NO. 36 OF 1994: PUBLIC HOLIDAYS ACT, 1994.". Government Communications (GCIS). 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  2. ^ "OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: NO. 36 OF 1994: PUBLIC HOLIDAYS ACT, 1994". 7 December 1994. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Media release on public holidays". Government Communications (GCIS). 1999-10-25. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  4. ^ "T Mbeki declares 2 May 2008 public holiday". Government Communications (GCIS). 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  5. ^ "crl rights commission continues with the consultative community hearings on the possible review of public holidays". 26 June 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Fight over religious holidays". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Hands off Christmas, protesters say". 10 November 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Recommendations: Public Holidays vs Religious/Cultural Holydays". CRL Rights Commission. Retrieved 23 April 2013.  Publication date per link to document from home page: "Investigation and Conflict Resolution Reports: The ICR Reports were launched on Wednesday 17 April 2013"
  9. ^ "Public holidays scrutinised (video)". eNCA. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 

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