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Public holidays in South Africa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

In gold, the National Day
Date Name Instituted Comments
1 January New Year's Day 1910
21 March Human Rights Day 1990[2] Commemorates the Sharpeville massacre of 1960.[3]
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday 1910
The Monday following Easter Sunday Family Day 1980
27 April Freedom Day 1994[2] Commemorates the first universal elections held on 27 April 1994.[3]
1 May Workers' Day 1995[4]
16 June Youth Day 1995[5] Commemorates the Soweto uprising led by secondary school students in 1976.[3]
9 August National Women's Day 1995[6] Commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to petition against pass laws.[3]
24 September Heritage Day 1995[7] Recognises aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, the historical inheritance, language, the food, and the land people live on.[3]
16 December Day of Reconciliation 1995 Honors both the Black and White soldiers who died in the Battle of Blood River in 1838.[3]
25 December Christmas Day 1910
26 December Day of Goodwill 1910 Formerly Boxing Day.

The Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994)[8] states that whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it will be a public holiday.[1]

Once-off holidays

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

  • National and provincial government elections – 2 June 1999[9]
  • National and provincial government elections – 14 April 2004[10]
  • Local government elections – 1 March 2006[11]
  • National and provincial government elections – 22 April 2009[12]
  • Local government elections – 18 May 2011[13]
  • National and provincial government elections – 7 May 2014[14]
  • Local government elections – 3 August 2016[15]
  • National and provincial government elections – 8 May 2019[16]

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.[17]

2 May 2008 was declared a public holiday when Human Rights Day and Good Friday coincided on 21 March 2008.[18]

27 December 2011 was declared a holiday by deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as Christmas Day fell on a Sunday which generally makes the following Monday a public holiday. However, the following Monday, 26 December 2011, was the Day of Goodwill and therefore decreased the number of paid public holidays for the year. Initially this day was not to be declared a public holiday[19] but in mid-December the decision was changed.[20]

27 December 2016 was declared a holiday by president Jacob Zuma following a request by the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA).[21] The request by FEDUSA was motivated by the fact this year, workers in the country will only have 11 public holidays instead of 12 due to fact that 25 December (Christmas Day) falls on a Sunday. The declaration of 27 December as a public holiday, the Presidency said, will ensure that workers are not unduly disadvantaged because of this unusual event and are still entitled to their 12 paid public holidays.[22]

Religious public holidays

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.[23][24] 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.[25] 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.[26][27] On 18 January 2015 the South African Law Reform Commission published a discussion document on legislation administered by the Department of Home Affairs in which it suggested "that either these holidays be reviewed or that equal weight be given to holidays of other faiths".[28][29][30]

Historical public holidays

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:

In gold, the former National Day
Date English Name Period
1 January New Year's Day 1910–present
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday 1910–present
The Monday following Easter Sunday Easter Monday

Family Day



6 April Van Riebeeck's Day

Founder's Day



1st Friday in May Workers' Day 1987–1989
1 May Workers' Day 1995–present
40th day after Easter Ascension Day 1910–1993
24 May Victoria Day / Empire Day 1910–1951
31 May Union Day

Republic Day



2nd Monday in July Queen's Birthday 1952–1960
10 July Family Day 1961–1973
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

Day of the Covenant

Day of the Vow

Day of Reconciliation





25 December Christmas Day 1910–present
26 December Boxing Day

Day of Goodwill




  1. ^ a b "NO. 36 OF 1994: PUBLIC HOLIDAYS ACT, 1994". Government Communications (GCIS). 28 March 2008. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Government Website: Public Holidays Archive". Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Public holidays in South Africa | South African Government". South African Government. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  4. ^ "First celebration of May Day in South Africa". South African History Online. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Speech by President Nelson Mandela on South Africa Youth Day Ladysmith, 16 June 1995". South African History Online. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  6. ^ "South Africa celebrates the first National Women's Day". South African History Online. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  7. ^ "First celebration of National Heritage Day". South African History Online. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  8. ^ "OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: NO. 36 OF 1994: PUBLIC HOLIDAYS ACT, 1994" (PDF). 7 December 1994. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Media Advisory". Department of Provincial and Local Government. 27 January 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  10. ^ "VOTING DAY A PUBLIC HOLIDAY". Department Home Affairs. 8 April 2004. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Media release on public holidays". Government Communications (GCIS). 1 June 1999. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  12. ^ "President declares 22 April a public holiday throughout the Republic". The Presidency. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  13. ^ "President declares a public holiday". The Presidency. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Proclamation by the President of the Republic of South Africa". President. 25 February 2014. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  15. ^ "President Zuma declares 3 August 2016 a public holiday". The Presidency. 24 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  16. ^ "President Cyril Ramaphosa signs proclamation on election date". The Presidency.
  17. ^ "Media release on public holidays". Government Communications (GCIS). 25 October 1999. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  18. ^ "T Mbeki declares 2 May 2008 public holiday". Government Communications (GCIS). 25 March 2008. Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
  19. ^ "Tuesday 27 December not a public holiday". Department of Home Affairs. 13 October 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe declares 27 December 2011 a public holiday". The Presidency. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Zuma declares December 27 a public holiday". News24.
  22. ^ "27 December declared a public holiday". South African News Agency.
  23. ^ "crl rights commission continues with the consultative community hearings on the possible review of public holidays". 26 June 2012. Archived from the original on 10 March 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  24. ^ "Fight over religious holidays". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Hands off Christmas, protesters say". 10 November 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  26. ^ "Recommendations: Public Holidays vs Religious/Cultural Holydays" (PDF). CRL Rights Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 May 2013. 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"
  27. ^ "Public holidays scrutinised (video)". eNCA. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  28. ^ "Media statement by the South African Law Reform Commission concerning its release of Discussion Paper 133 on statutory law revision in respect of legislation administered by the Department of Home Affairs" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  29. ^ Discussion Paper 133 (Project 25) (PDF). South African Law Reform Commission. 2015. ISBN 9780621432800. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  30. ^ Soobramoney, Candice (25 June 2015). "Public holiday outcry". The Post. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 March 2021, at 04:24
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