South Africa has 12 public holidays as determined by the Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994) [PDF]. The Act determines whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following on it shall be a public holiday.

The dates on which Good Friday and Easter Sunday fall are determined according to the ecclesiastical moon. That varies each year but they fall at some point between late March and late April.

Southern African Public Holidays
South African School Holidays

The information on this page has been compiled to the best of our abilities. Please note that the publishers of this website, Blaauwberg Online cc and any of its employees, do not take any responsibility for any errors that may occur in the data below.


2021 2022
New Year's Day
Friday 01 January
Saturday 01 January
Human Rights Day Sunday 21 March Monday 21 March
Public Holiday Monday 22 March  
Good Friday Friday 02 April Friday 15 April
Family Day Monday 13 April Monday 18 April
School Holiday Monday 26 April  
Freedom Day Tuesday 27 April Wednesday 27 April
Workers Day Saturday 01 May Sunday 01 May
Youth Day Wednesday 16 June Thursday 16 June
School Holiday   Friday 17 June
School Holiday   Monday 08 August
Women's Day Monday 09 August Tuesday 09 August
Heritage Day Friday 24 September Saturday 24 September
Day of Reconciliation Thursday 16 December Friday 16 December
Christmas Day Saturday 25 December Sunday 25 December
Day of Goodwill Sunday 26 December Monday 26 December
Public Holiday Monday 27 December  

The dates on which Good Friday and Easter Sunday fall are determined according to the ecclesiastical moon. That varies each year but they fall at some point between late March and late April.

21 March [Human Rights Day]

The Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa.

The Constitution provides for the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The aim of the Commission is to promote respect for human rights, promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights, and to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in SA. The SAHRC was launched on 21 March 1996, 35 years after the fateful events of 21 March 1960 when demonstrators in Sharpeville were gunned down by police.

The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 extended Government control over the movement of Africans to urban areas and abolished the use of the Pass Book (a document which Africans were required to carry on them to 'prove' that they were allowed to enter a 'white area') in favour of a reference book which had to be carried at all times by all Africans.

Failure to produce the reference book on demand by the police, was a punishable offence. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to start on 21 March 1960. All African men were to take part in the campaign without their passes and present themselves for arrest.

Campaigners gathered at police stations in townships near Johannesburg where they were dispersed by police. At the Sharpeville police station a scuffle broke out. Part of a wire fence was trampled, allowing the crowd to move forward. The police opened fire, apparently without having been given a prior order to do so. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded.

In apartheid South Africa this day became known as Sharpeville Day and although not part of the official calendar of public holidays the event was commemorated among anti-apartheid movements.

27 April [Freedom Day]

Freedom Day commemorates the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994. Read more about Freedom Day celebrations.

16 June [Youth Day]

In 1975 protests started in African schools after a directive from the then Bantu Education Department that Afrikaans had to be used on an equal basis with English as a language of instruction in secondary schools. The issue, however, was not so much the Afrikaans as the whole system of Bantu education which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers. On 16 June 1976 more than 20 000 pupils from Soweto began a protest march. In the wake of clashes with the police, and the violence that ensued during the next few weeks, approximately 700 hundred people, many of them youths, were killed and property destroyed.

Youth Day, previously known as Soweto Day, commemorates these events.

More information.

9 August [National Women's Day]

This day commemorates 9 August 1956 when women participated in a national march to petition against pass laws (legislation that required African persons to carry a document on them to 'prove' that they were allowed to enter a 'white area').

More information

24 September [Heritage Day]

"The day is one of our newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live.

"Within a broader social and political context, the day's events…are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.

"Heritage has defined as "that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation."

(Statement issued by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, 17 September 1996)

In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, (former) President Mandela stated:

"When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.

We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy."

Government determines a theme for each year's celebrations.

More on Heritage Day

16 December [Day of Reconciliation]

In apartheid South Africa 16 December was known as Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers in preparation for the battle on 16 December against the Zulus took a Vow before God that they would build a church and that they and their descendants would observe the day as a day of thanksgiving should they be granted victory. With the advent of democracy in South Africa 16 December retained its status as a public holiday, however, this time with the purpose of fostering reconciliation and national unity.

During the earlier part of the 19th century, many Afrikaner farmers left the eastern cape and moved inland. Among them was the Voortrekkers, a group of Afrikaners protesting British colonialism and seeking independent republics on what was reputedly empty land. But the land was not empty and clashes between these Afrikaners and indigenous peoples were inevitable.

Late in 1837 one of the Voortrekker leaders, Piet Retief, entered into negotiations for land with Dingane, the Zulu king. In terms of the negotiations Dingane promised the Voortrekkers land on condition they returned cattle to him stolen by Sekonyela (the Tlokwa chief). This Retief did and apparently he and Dingane signed a treaty on 6 February 1838. During the ceremony Dingane had Retief and his entourage murdered - an event which was witnessed by Francis Owen, a missionary who described the scene in his diary.

In ensuing battles between Zulus and Voortrekkers over the next few months numerous lives were lost on both sides.

On 16 December 1838 about 10 000 troops under the command of Dambuza (Nzobo) and Nhlela attacked the Voortrekkers, but the 470 Voortrekkers, with the advantage of gun powder, warded them off. Only three Voortrekkers were wounded, but more than 3 000 Zulus were killed during the battle.



2021 2022
Chinese New Year Friday 12 February Tuesday 01 February
St. Valentine's Day Sunday 14 February Monday 14 February
March Equinox Saturday 20 March Sunday 20 March
St. Patrick's Day Wednesday 17 March Thursday 17 March
Mother's Day Sunday 09 May Sunday 08 May
June Solstice Sunday 20 June Tuesday 21 June
Father's Day Sunday 20 June Sunday 19 June
National Secretary's Day Wednesday 01 September Wednesday 07 September
September Equinox Wednesday 22 September Friday 23 September
National Bosses Day Saturday 16 October Sunday 16 October
Halloween Sunday 31 October Monday 31 October
Guy Fawkes Friday 05 November Saturday 05 November
Thanksgiving Day Thursday 25 November Thursday 24 November
Black Friday Friday 26 November Friday 25 November
December Solstice Tuesday 21 December Wednesday 21 December


Epiphany Wednesday 06 January
Baptism of the Jesus Sunday 10 January
Candlemas Tuesday 02 February
St. Valentine's Day Sunday 14 February
Ash Wednesday Wednesday 17 February
St. Patrick's Day Wednesday 17 March
St. Joseph's Day Friday 19 March
Palm Sunday Sunday 28 March
Maundy (Holy) Thursday Thursday 01 April
Good Friday Friday 02 April
Easter Sunday Sunday 04 April
Easter Monday Monday 05 April
Ascension Day Thursday 13 May
Pentecost Sunday 23 May
Whit Monday Monday 24 May
Trinity Sunday Sunday 30 May
Corpus Christi Thursday 03 June
Saint Vladimir Tuesday 15 June
Saints Peter and Paul Tuesday 29 June
St. James the Great Day Monday 25 July
The Assumption of Mary Sunday 15 August
Holy Cross Day Tuesday 14 September
Michael and All Angels Wednesday 29 September
All Hallows Eve Sunday 31 October
All Saints Day Monday 01 November
All Souls Day Tuesday 02 November
Christ the King Monday 21 November
Advent Sunday (commence) Sunday 28 November
St. Andrew's Day Tuesday 30 November
St. Nicholas Day Monday 06 December
Christmas Eve Friday 24 December
Christmas Day Saturday 25 December
Holy Innocents Tuesday 28 December
Watch Night Friday 31 December

Please note that all the Holy Days begin at sunset on the previous and end at nightfall
Tu-B'shvat Wedneday 27 January
Fast of Esther Thursday 25 February
Purim Thursday 25 February
Pesach (Day 1-8) Saturday 27 March- Sunday 04 April
Yom Hazikaron Tuesday 13 April
Yom Ha'atzmaut Friday 16 April
Lag B' Omer Thursday 29 April
Yom Yerushalayim Sunday 09 May
Shavuot Sunday 16 May - Tuesday 18 May
Fast of Tammuz Saturday 26 June
Tish B'Av (Fast of 10th of Av) Saturday 17 July
Rosh Hashanah (1st Day) Monday 06 September - Wednesday 08 September
Fast of Gedalya Thursday 09 September
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Wednesday 15 September - Thursday 16 September
Succot Monday 20 September - Monday 27 September
Hoshana Rabba Sunday 26 September - Monday 27 September
Shmini Atzeret Monday 27 September - Wednesday 29 September
Shimchat Torah Tuesday 28 September - Wednesday 29 September
Chanukkah (1st Day) Sunday 28 November - Monday 06 December
Fast of Tevet Tuesday 14 December

Islamic fasts and festivals are determined by an actual sighting of the appropriate new moon.
Laylatul Meeraj (eve) Thursday 11 March
Lailat al Bara'ah Sunday 28 March
Ramadaan Wednesday 13 April - Thursday 12 May
Lailat al Oadr Sunday 09 May
Eid-Ul-Fitr Wednesday 12 May - Thursday 13 May
Waqf al Arafa - Hajj Sunday 18 July - Monday 19 July
Eid-Ul-Adgha Monday 19 July - Friday 23 July
Hijra - Islamic New Year Tuesday 10 August
Day of Ashura / Muharram Wednesday 18 August - Thursday 19 August
Milad un Nabi Monday 18 October - Tuesday 19 October
Makarsankranti / Pongal Thursday 14 January
Thaipusam Thursday 28 January
Vasant Panchami Tuesday 16 February
Maha Shivaratri Thursday 11 March
Holika Dahan Sunday 28 March
Holi Sunday 28 March - Monday 29 March
Hindi New Year Monday 12 April
Ugadi / Gudi Padwa / Telugu New Year Tuesday 13 March
Ramanavami Wednesday 21 April
Hanuman Jayanti Tuesday 27 April
Vaisakhi / Baisakhi / Vishu Wednesday 14 April
Tamil New Year Wednesday 14 April
Bengali New Year / Bihu Wednesday 14 April
Akshaya Tritiya Friday 14 May
Savitri Pooja Thursday 10 June
Puri Rath Yatra Sunday 11 July
Guru Purnima Saturday 24 July
Nag Panchami Friday 13 August
Varalakshmi Vrat Friday 20 August
Raksha Bandhan Sunday 22 August
Krishna Janmashtami Monday 30 August
Ganesh Chaturthi Friday 10 September
Onam Thursday 12 August - Monday 23 August
Vishwakarma Puja Friday 17 September
Mahalaya Amavasya Thursday 06 October
Navaratri begins Thursday 07 October
Navaratri ends / Maha Navami Thursday 14 October
Dusshera Friday 15 October
Sharad Purnima Tuesday 19 October
Karwa Chauth Saturday 23 October - Monday 25 October
Dhan Teras Tuesday 02 November
Diwali Thursday 04 November
Bhai Dooj Saturday 06 November
Chhath Puja Wednesday 10 November
Kartik Poornima Friday 19 November
Dhanu Sankranti Thursday 16 December
Geeta Jayanti Tuesday 14 December