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Know Your SA Public Holidays

Public holidays in South Africa Explained in Detail






If you are thinking about immigrating to South Africa, you should know on which days the public holidays fall. There are 12 public holidays per year in South Africa. The dates that Good Friday and Easter Sunday are not always the same, as they are determined by the ecclesiastical moon. The dates vary from year to year, but are always somewhere between late March and late April. When certain public holidays fall on a Sunday, the Monday that follows will then become the public holiday.


Here is breakdown of the different public holidays and a brief description of what makes them so significant.


Human Rights Day – 21 March


This day is meant to reflect on what happened on the 21st of March 1960, when demonstrators were gunned down by the local police. Human rights day is there to promote the respect for human rights, the development and attainment of human rights and to promote protection.


Freedom Day – 27 April


Freedom day was declared a public holiday to commemorate the first ever democratic elections that took place in 1994.


Youth Day – 16 June


This day commemorates the hundreds of people, mainly youths, who were killed in the 1976 protest in Soweto. These learners were protesting against the poor service they were getting in their schools, the lack of teachers and overcrowded classrooms.


National Women’s day – 9 August


In 1956 women took part in a march to petition against laws that were passed where Africans had to carry a document with them to prove that they were allowed to enter “White areas”. The 9th of August every year is used to commemorate the events that took place so many years ago.


Heritage Day – 24 September


This is a newly created public holiday in which the many different cultures in South Africa are recognised. The language, creative expression, the food we eat, the land in which we live and our historical inheritance are celebrated on this day every year.


Day of Reconciliation – 16 December


In the days of apartheid, the 16th of December was known as the Day of the Vow. The Zulu’s took a vow before God that they would build a church where their ancestors could observe the day as a day of thanksgiving, if they were granted victory against the Voortrekkers at the time. The purpose of this day now, is to celebrate national unity and foster reconciliation.


Other Public Holidays


The other public holidays in South Africa are Christmas Day – 25 December, New Years Day - 1 January, Workers Day – 1 May, Day of Goodwill – 26 December and then Good Friday, Family Day (Easter) – these days fall on different dates each year, as mentioned above.

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