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.

2018 2019
New Year's Day Monday 01 January Tuesday 01 January
Human Rights Day Wednesday 21 March Thursday 21 March
Good Friday Friday 30 March Friday 19 April
Family Day Monday 02 April Monday 22 April
Freedom Day Friday 27 April Saturday 27 April
Workers Day Tuesday 01 May Wednedsday 01 May
Youth Day Saturday 16 June Sunday 16 June
Public Holiday   Monday 17 June
Women's Day Thursday 09 August Friday 09 August
School Holiday Friday 10 August  
Heritage Day Monday 24 September Tuesday 24 September
Day of Reconciliation Sunday 16 December Monday 16 December
Public Holiday Monday 17 December  
Christmas Day Tuesday 25 December Wednesday 25 December
Day of Goodwill Wednesday 26 December Thursday 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.


2018 2019
Chinese New Year Friday 16 February Tuesday 05 February
St. Valentine's Day Wednesday 14 February Thursday 14 February
March Equinox Tuesday 20 March Wednesday 20 March
St. Patrick's Day Saturday 17 March Sunday 17 March
Mother's Day Sunday 13 May Sunday 12 May
June Solstice Thursday 21 June Friday 21 June
Father's Day Sunday 17 June Sunday 16 June
National Secretary's Day Wednesday 05 September Wednesday 04 September
September Equinox Sunday 23 September Monday 23 September
National Bosses Day Tuesday 16 October Wednesday 16 October
Halloween Wednesday 31 October Thursday 31 October
Guy Fawkes Monday 05 November Tuesday 05 November
Thanksgiving Day Thursday 22 November Thursday 28 November
December Solstice Saturday 22 December Sunday 22 December


Epiphany Saturday 06 January
Baptism of the Jesus Sunday 07 January
Candlemas Friday 02 February
Ash Wednesday Wednesday 14 February
St. Valentine's Day Wednesday 14 February
St. Patrick's Day Saturday 17 March
St. Joseph's Day Monday 19 March
Palm Sunday Sunday 25 March
Maundy (Holy) Thursday Thursday 29 March
Good Friday Friday 30 March
Easter Sunday Sunday 01 April
Easter Monday Monday 02 April
Monday 23 April
Ascension Day Thursday 10 May
Pentecost Sunday 20 May
Whit Monday Monday 21 May
Trinity Sunday Sunday 27 May
Corpus Christi Thursday 31 May
Saint Vladimir Friday 15 June
Saints Peter and Paul Friday 29 June
St. James the Great Day Wednesday 25 July
Lammas Wednesday 01 August
The Assumption of Mary Wednesday 15 August
Holy Cross Day Friday 14 September
Michael and All Angels Saturday 29 September
All Hallows Eve Wednesday 31 October
All Saints Day Thursday 01 November
All Souls' Day Friday 02 November
Christ the King Sunday 25 November
St. Andrew's Day Friday 30 November
Advent Sunday Sunday 02 December
St. Nicholas Day Thursday 06 December
Christmas Eve Monday 24 December
Christmas Day Tuesday 25 December
Holy Innocents Friday 28 December
Watch Night Monday 31 December
Please note that all the Holy Days begin at sunset on the previous and end at nightfall
Tu-B'shvat Wednesday 31 January
Fast of Esther Wednesday 28 February
Purim Friday 02 March
Pesach (Day 1-8) Saturday 31 March - Saturday 07 April
Yom Hazikaron Wednesday 18 April
Yom Ha'atzmaut Thursday 19 April
Lag B' Omer Thursday 03 May
Yom Yerushalayim Sunday 13 May
Shavuot (1st Day) Sunday 20 May
Shavuot (2nd Day) Monday 21 May
Fast of Tammuz Sunday 01 July
Tish B'Av (Fast of 10th of Av) Friday 27 July
Rosh Hashanah (1st Day) Monday 10 September
Rosh Hashanah (2nd Day) Tuesday 11 September
Fast of Gedalya Wednesday 12 September
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Wednesday 19 September
Succot (1st Day) Monday 24 September
Succot (2nd Day) Tuesday 25 September
Shmini Atzeret Monday 01 October
Shimchat Torah Tuesday 02 October
Chanukkah (1st Day) Monday 03 December
Chanukkah (8th Day) Monday 10 December
Islamic fasts and festivals are determined by an actual sighting of the appropriate new moon.
Laylatul Meeraj (eve) Friday 13 April
Lailat al Bara'ah Tuesday 01 May
Commencement of Ramadaan Wednesday 16 May
Lailat al Oadr Monday 11 June
Eid-Ul-Fitr (end of Ramadaan) Friday 15 June
Waqf al Arafa - Hajj Monday 20 August
Eid-Ul-Adgha Tuesday 21 August
Hijra - Islamic New Year Tuesday 11 September
Day of Ashura / Muharram Thursday 20 September
Milad un Nabi Wednesday 21 November
Makarsankranti / Pongal Sunday 14 January
Vasant Panchami Monday 22 January
Thaipusam Wednesday 31 January
Maha Shivaratri Wednesday 14 February
Holika Dahan Thursday 01 March
Holi Friday 02 March
Hindi New Year Sunday 18 March
Ugadi / Gudi Padwa / Telugu New Year Sunday 18 March
Ramanavami Sunday 25 March
Hanuman Jayanti Saturday 31 March

Vaisakhi / Baisakhi / Vishu

Saturday 14 April
Tamil New Year Saturday 14 April
Bengali New Year / Bihu Sunday 15 April
Akshaya Tritiya Wednesday 18 April
Savitri Pooja Tuesday 15 May
Puri Rath Yatra Saturday 14 July
Guru Purnima Friday 27 July
Onam Friday 24 August
Varalakshmi Vrat Friday 24 August
Raksha Bandhan Sunday 26 August
Krishna Janmashtami Sunday 02 September
Ganesh Chaturthi Thursday 13 September
Vishwakarma Puja Monday 17 September
Mahalaya Amavasya Monday 08 October
Navaratri begins

Wednesday 10 October

Navaratri ends / Maha Navami Wednesday 17 October
Dusshera Friday 19 October
Sharad Purnima Tuesday 23 October
Karwa Chauth Saturday 27 October
Dhan Teras Monday 05 November
Diwali Wednesday 07 November
Bhai Dooj Friday 09 November
Chhath Puja Tuesday 13 November
Kartik Poornima Friday 23 November
Dhanu Sankranti Sunday 16 December
Geeta Jayanti Tuesday 18 December