Public holidays in South Africa

A list of current public holidays in South Africa:
1 of JanuaryNew Year's Day1910
21 of MarchHuman Rights Day1990
The Friday before Easter SundayGood Friday1910
The Monday following Easter SundayFamily Day1980
27 of AprilFreedom Day1994
1 of MayWorkers' Day1995
16 of JuneYouth Day1995
9 of AugustNational Women's Day1995
24 of SeptemberHeritage Day1995
16 of DecemberDay of Reconciliation1995
25 of DecemberChristmas Day1910
26 of DecemberDay of Goodwill 1910

The Public Holidays Act states that whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it will be a public holiday.

Once-off holidays

Since 1994 election days have been declared ad hoc public holidays:
31 December 1999 and 2 January 2000 were declared public holidays to accommodate the Y2K changeover, and 3 January 2000 was automatically a public holiday because the previous holiday was a Sunday.
2 May 2008 was declared a public holiday when Human Rights Day and Good Friday coincided on 21 March 2008.
27 December 2011 was declared a holiday by deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as Christmas Day fell on a Sunday which generally makes the following Monday a public holiday. However, the following Monday, 26 December 2011, was the Day of Goodwill and therefore decreased the number of paid public holidays for the year. Initially this day was not to be declared a public holiday but in mid-December the decision was changed.
27 December 2016 was declared a holiday by president Jacob Zuma following a request by the Federation of Unions of South Africa. The request by FEDUSA was motivated by the fact this year, workers in the country will only have 11 public holidays instead of 12 due to fact that the 25th of December falls on a Sunday. The declaration of the 27th December as a public holiday, the Presidency said, will ensure that workers are not unduly disadvantaged because of this unusual event and are still entitled to their 12 paid public holidays.

Religious public holidays

The Christian holidays of Christmas Day and Good Friday remained in secular post-apartheid South Africa's calendar of public holidays. The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, a chapter nine institution established in 2004, held countrywide consultative public hearings in June and July 2012 to assess the need for a review of public holidays following the receipt of complaints from minority groups about unfair discrimination. The CRL Rights Commission stated that they would submit their recommendations to the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Labour, various Portfolio Committees and the Office of the Presidency by October 2012. On 10 November 2012 the Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor told Christian protesters objecting to the removal of Christian public holidays that she had not received any enquiries from the CRL Rights Commission yet. The CRL Rights Commission published its recommendations on 17 April 2013, including the scrapping of some existing public holidays to free up days for some non-Christian religious public holidays. On 18 January 2015 the South African Law Reform Commission published a discussion document on legislation administered by the Department of Home Affairs in which it suggested "that either these holidays be reviewed or that equal weight be given to holidays of other faiths".

Historical public holidays

South Africa's present calendar of public holidays was introduced in 1994. During the period between Union in 1910, and the establishment of the present republic in 1994, the following were the official public holidays:
DateEnglish NamePeriod
1 JanuaryNew Year's Day1910–present
The Friday before Easter SundayGood Friday1910–present
The Monday following Easter SundayEaster Monday
Family Day
6 AprilVan Riebeeck's Day
Founder's Day
1st Friday in MayWorkers' Day1987–1989
1 MayWorkers' Day1995–present
40th day after EasterAscension Day1910–1993
24 MayVictoria Day / Empire Day1910–1951
31 MayUnion Day
Republic Day
2nd Monday in JulyQueen's Birthday1952–1960
10 JulyFamily Day1961–1973
1st Monday in AugustKing's Birthday1910–1951
1st Monday in SeptemberSettlers' Day1952–1979
10 OctoberKruger Day1952–1993
16 DecemberDingaan's Day
Day of the Covenant
Day of the Vow
Day of Reconciliation
25 DecemberChristmas Day1910–present
26 DecemberBoxing Day
Day of Goodwill