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.


2023 2024
New Year's Day
Sunday 01 January
Monday 01 January
Public Holiday Monday 02 January  
Human Rights Day Tuesday 21 March Tuesday 21 March
Good Friday Friday 07 April Friday 29 March
Family Day Monday 10 April Monday 01 April
Freedom Day Thursday 27 April Saturday 27 April
Workers Day Monday 01 May Monday 01 May
Youth Day Friday 16 June Sunday 16 June
Women's Day Wednesday 09 August Friday 09 August
Heritage Day Sunday 24 September Tuesday 24 September
Public Holiday Monday 25 September  
Day of Reconciliation Saturday 16 December Monday 16 December
Christmas Day Monday 25 December Wednesday 25 December
Day of Goodwill Tuesday 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.



2023 2024
Chinese New Year Sunday 22 January Saturday 10 February
St. Valentine's Day Tuesday 14 February Wednesday 14 February
St. Patrick's Day Friday 17 March Sunday 17 March
March Equinox Monday 20 March Wednesday 20 March
Mother's Day Sunday 14 May Sunday 12 May
Father's Day Sunday 18 June Sunday 16 June
June Solstice Wednesday 21 June Thursday 20 June
National Secretary's Day Wednesday 06 September Wednesday 04 September
September Equinox Saturday 23 September Sunday 22 September
National Bosses Day Monday 16 October Wednesday 16 October
Halloween Tuesday 31 October Thursday 31 October
Guy Fawkes Sunday 05 November Tuesday 05 November
Thanksgiving Day Thursday 23 November Thursday 28 November
Black Friday Friday 24 November Friday 29 November
December Solstice Friday 22 December Saturday 22 December


Epiphany Friday 06 January
Baptism of the Jesus Sunday 08 January
Candlemas Thursday 02 February
St. Valentine's Day Tuesday 14 February
Ash Wednesday Wednesday 22 February
St. Patrick's Day Friday 17 March
St. Joseph's Day Sunday 19 March
Palm Sunday Sunday 02 April
Maundy (Holy) Thursday Thursday 06 April
Good Friday Friday 07 April
Easter Sunday Sunday 09 April
Easter Monday Monday 10 April
Ascension Day Thursday 18 May
Pentecost Sunday 28 May
Whit Monday Monday 29 May
Trinity Sunday Sunday 04 June
Corpus Christi Thursday 08 June
Saints Peter and Paul Thursday 29 June
Saint Vladimir Saturday 15 July
St. James the Great Day Tuesday 25 July
The Assumption of Mary Tuesday 15 August
Holy Cross Day Thursday 14 September
Michael and All Angels Friday 29 September
All Hallows Eve Tuesday 31 October
All Saints Day Wednesday 01 November
All Souls Day Thursday 02 November
Advent Sunday (commence) Sunday 03 December
Christ the King Sunday 26 November
St. Andrew's Day Thursday 30 November
St. Nicholas Day Wednesday 06 December
Christmas Eve Sunday 24 December
Christmas Day Monday 25 December
Holy Innocents Thursday 28 December
Watch Night Sunday 31 December

Please note that all the Holy Days begin at sunset on the previous and end at nightfall
Fast of Tevet Tuesday 03 January
Tu-B'shvat Sunday 05 February - Monday 06 February
Fast of Esther Monday 06 March
Purim Monday 06 March - Tuesday 07 March
Pesach (Day 1-8) Wednesday 05 April - Thursday 13 April
Yom Hazikaron Monday 24 April - Tuesday 25 April
Yom Ha'atzmaut Tuesday 25 April - Wednesday 26 April
Lag B' Omer Monday 08 May - Tuesday 09 May
Yom Yerushalayim Thursday 18 May - Friday 19 May
Shavuot Thursday 25 May - Saturday 27 May
Fast of Tammuz Wednesday 05 July - Thursday 06 July
Tish B'Av (Fast of 10th of Av) Wednesday 26 July - Thursday 27 July
Rosh Hashanah (1st Day) Friday 15 September - Sunday 17 September
Fast of Gedalya Monday 18 September
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Sunday 24 September - Monday 25 September
Succot Friday 29 September - Friday 06 October
Hoshana Rabbah Thursday 05 October - Friday 06 October
Shemini Atzeret Friday 06 October - Sunday 8 October
Shimchat Torah Saturday 07 October - Sunday 08 October
Hanukkah (1st Day) Monday 18 December - Tuesday 26 December

Islamic fasts and festivals are determined by an actual sighting of the appropriate new moon.
Laylatul Meeraj (eve) Friday 17 February - Saturday 18 February
Lailat al Bara'ah Tuesday 07 March - Wednesday 08 March
Ramadaan Wednesday 22 March - Friday 21 April
Lailat al Qadr Tuesday 18 April
Eid-Ul-Fitr Friday 21 April - Saturday 22 April
Waqf al Arafa - Hajj Tuesday 27 June - Wednesday 28 June
Eid-Ul-Adgha Wednesday 28 June - Thursday 29 June
Day of Ashura / Muharram Thursday 27 July
Al Hijra - Islamic New Year Saturday 29 July
Milad un Nabi Tuesday 26 September - Wednesday 27 September
Makarsankranti / Pongal Sunday 15 January
Vasant Panchami Thursday 26 January
Thaipusam Sunday 05 February
Maha Shivaratri Saturday 18 February
Holi Monday 06 March - Tuesday 07 March
Holika Dahan Tuesday 07 March
Hindi New Year Wednesday 22 March
Ugadi / Gudi Padwa / Telugu New Year Wednesday 22 March
Ramanavami Thursday 30 March
Hanuman Jayanti Thursday 06 April
Vaisakhi / Baisakhi / Vishu Friday 14 April
Tamil New Year Friday 14 April
Bengali New Year / Bihu Friday 14 April
Akshaya Tritiya Saturday 22 April
Savitri Pooja Friday 19 May
Puri Rath Yatra Tuesday 20 June
Guru Purnima Monday 03 July
Onam Sunday 20 August - Thursday 31 August
Nag Panchami Monday 21 August
Varalakshmi Vrat Friday 25 August
Raksha Bandhan Wednesday 30 August
Krishna Janmashtami Wednesday 06 September - Thursday 07 September
Vishwakarma Puja Sunday 17 September
Ganesh Chaturthi Tuesday 19 September
Mahalaya Amavasya Saturday 14 October
Navaratri begins Sunday 15 October
Navaratri ends / Maha Navami Tuesday 24 October
Dusshera Tuesday 24 October
Sharad Purnima Saturday 28 October
Karwa Chauth Tuesday 31 October
Dhanteras Friday 10 November
Diwali Sunday 12 November
Bhai Dooj Wednesday 15 November
Chhath Puja Sunday 19 November - Wednesday 22 November
Kartik Poornima Monday 27 November
Dhanu Sankranti Saturday 16 December
Gita Jayanti Friday 22 December