South African Official, Public and National Holidays
Below you will find a list of official, public and national holidays for South Africa.
New Year's Day
As is the case for many countries around the world, South Africa marks the first day of the New Year with social gatherings and a variety of family-oriented activities.
Human Rights Day- 2015-03-21
The South African Human Rights Commission was launched on 21 March 1996, thirty-five years after the Sharpeville massacre. Human Rights Day is a public holiday in South Africa, giving all citizens the opportunity to reflect on provisions made by the Bill of Rights in the country's constitution, which aims to promote and uphold respect for human rights.
Good Friday- 2015-04-03
Good Friday is a Christian religious holiday commemorating the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
Traditionally known as Easter Monday, Family Day is a public holiday in South Africa, making a four-day weekend, often referred to as the Easter Weekend.
Freedom Day commemorates South Africa's very first democratic elections in 1994 when all citizens 18 years and older had the right to vote. The African National Congress won the elections and Nelson Mandela became the first truly democratically-elected president of South Africa.
As is the case in many countries around the world, the first day of May symbolizes solidarity with workers around the world. In South Africa it is also a day to reflect on the role played by the Communist Party, trade unions and other labour movements in the struggle against apartheid and for worker's rights.
Youth Day commemorates the events triggered by discrimination within the education system. On 16 June 1976 more than 20,000 students from schools in Soweto started a protest march that led to clashes with police and a spate of violence leaving an estimated 700 people dead. Youth Day celebrations reflect on these events, but focus on opportunities available to young South Africans today.
National Women’s Day
This day commemorates the national march by women on 9 August 1956 to protest against the legislation requiring non-whites to carry a document proving they had permission to be in a white area. Celebrations on this day highlight the role of women in society and opportunities available for future generations to contribute meaningfully to South African society.
In a speech made on Heritage Day in 1996, former President Nelson Mandela noted that when the government had decided to make Heritage Day a national holiday it was with the knowledge that South Africa’s rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build the nation. Annual Heritage Day celebrations include themed gatherings countrywide with a motivating and positive message.
Day of Reconciliation
During the apartheid era this day was known as the Day of the Vow – a reference to a vow taken by the Voortrekkers in preparation for the historic Battle of Blood River. It later had significance for the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in their struggle against apartheid. The day has remained a national holiday, but the name reflects the position of the majority of South Africans – that of Reconciliation.
Christmas Day is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and a national holiday in South Africa.
Day of Goodwill
Following a long-held tradition, the day after Christmas is a national holiday.