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.


2017 2018
New Year's Day Sunday 01 January Monday 01 January
Public Holiday Monday 02 January  
Human Rights Day Tuesday 21 March Wednesday 21 March
Good Friday Friday 14 April Friday 30 March
Family Day Monday 17 April Monday 02 April
Freedom Day Thursday 27 April Friday 27 April
Workers Day Monday 01 May Tuesday 01 May
Youth Day Friday 16 June Saturday 16 June
Women's Day Wednesday 09 August Thursday 09 August
Heritage Day Sunday 24 September Monday 24 September
Public Holiday Monday 25 September  
Day of Reconciliation Saturday 16 December Sunday 16 December
Public Holiday   Monday 17 December
Christmas Day Monday 25 December Tuesday 25 December
Day of Goodwill Tuesday 26 December Wednesday 26 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.



2017 2018
Chinese New Year Saturday 28 January Friday 16 February
St. Valentine's Day Tuesday 14 February Wednesday 14 February
March Equinox Monday 20 March Tuesday 20 March
St. Patrick's Day Friday 17 March Saturday 17 March
Mother's Day Sunday 14 May Sunday 13 May
June Solstice Wednesday 21 June Thursday 21 June
Father's Day Sunday 18 June Sunday 17 June
National Secretary's Day Wednesday 06 September Wednesday 05 September
September Equinox Friday 22 September Sunday 23 September
National Bosses Day Monday 16 October Tuesday 16 October
Halloween Tuesday 31 October Wednesday 31 October
Guy Fawkes Sunday 05 November Monday 05 November
Thanksgiving Day Thursday 23 November Thursday 22 November
December Solstice Thursday 21 December Friday 21 December


Ash Wednesday Wednesday 01 March
Palm Sunday Sunday 09 April
Holy week (commence) Sunday 09 April
Good Friday Friday 14 April
Easter Sunday Sunday 16 April
Ascension Day Thursday 25 May
Pentecost Sunday 04 June
Whit Monday Monday 05 June
All Saints Day Wednesday 01 November
Christ the King Sunday 25 November
Advent Sunday Sunday 03 December
Christmas Day Monday 25 December
Please note that all the Holy Days begin at sunset on the previous and end at nightfall
Tu-B'shvat Saturday 11 February
Fast of Esther Thursday 09 March
Purim Sunday 12 March
Pesach (Day 1-8) Tuesday 11 April / Thursday 18 April
Yom Hazikaron Monday 01 May
Yom Ha'atzmaut Tuesday 02 May
Lag B' Omer Sunday 14 May
Yom Yerushalayim Wednesday 24 May
Shavuot (1st Day) Wednesday 31 May
Shavuot (2nd Day) Thursday 01 June
Fast of Tammuz Thursday 11 July
Tish B'Av (Fast of 10th of Av) Thursday 01 August
Rosh Hashanah (1st Day) Thursday 21 September
Rosh Hashanah (2nd Day) Friday 22 September
Fast of Gedalya Sunday 24 September
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Saturday 30 September
Succot (1st Day) Thursday 05 October
Succot (2nd Day) Friday 06 October
Shmini Atzeret Thursday 12 October
Shimchat Torah Friday 13 October
Chanukkah (1st Day) Wednesday 13 December
Chanukkah (8th Day) Wednesday 20 December
Islamic fasts and festivals are determined by an actual sighting of the appropriate new moon.
Laylatul Meeraj (eve) Wednesday 5 April
Lailat al Bara'ah Saturday 13 May
Commencement of Ramadaan Sunday 28 May
Lailat al Oadr Thursday 22 June
Eid-Ul-Fitr (end of Ramadaan) Tuesday 27 June
Waqf al Arafa - Hajj Thursday 31 August
Eid-Ul-Adgha Monday 04 September
Hijra - Islamic New Year Friday 22 September
Day of Ashura / Muharram Sunday 01 October
Milad un Nabi Friday 01 December
Makarsankranti / Pongal Saturday 14 January
Vasant Panchami Wednesday 01 February
Maha Shivaratri Friday 24 February
Holika Dahan Sunday 12 March
Holi Monday 13 March
Hindi New Year Tuesday 28 March
Ugadi / Gudi Padwa / Telugu New Year Tuesday 28 March
Ramanavami Wednesday 05 April
Hanuman Jayanti Tuesday 11 April
Tamil New Year Friday 14 April
Vaisakhi / Baisakhi / Vishu Friday 14 April
Bengali New Year / Bihu Saturday 15 April
Akshaya Tritiya Friday 28 April
Savitri Pooja Thursday 25 May
Puri Rath Yatra Sunday 25 June
Guru Purnima Sunday 09 July
Nag Panchami Thursday 27 July
Varalakshmi Vrat Friday 04 August
Raksha Bandhan Monday 07August
Krishna Januarymashtami Monday 14 August
Ganesh Chaturthi Friday 25 August
Onam Monday 04 September
Vishwakarma Puja Sunday 17 September
Mahalaya Amavasya Tuesday 19 September
Navaratri begins

Thursday 21 September

Navaratri ends / Maha Navami Friday 09 September
Dusshera Saturday 30 September
Sharad Purnima Thursday 05 October
Karwa Chauth Sunday 08 October
Dhan Teras Tuesday 17 October
Diwali Thursday 19 October
Bhai Dooj Saturday 21 October
Chhath Puja Thursday 26 October
Kartik Poornima Saturday 04 November
Geeta Jayanti Thursday 30 November
Dhanu Sankranti Saturday 16 December