2016 South African Public Holidays schedule so you never miss a holiday!
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2016 South African Public Holidays
|01 January||New Year's Day|
|21 March||Human Rights Day|
|25 March||Good Friday|
|28 March||Family Day|
|27 April||Freedom Day|
|01 May||Workers' Day|
|02 May||Workers' Day observed|
|16 June||Youth Day|
|09 August||National Women's Day|
|24 September||Heritage Day|
|16 December||Day of Reconciliation|
|25 December||Christmas Day|
|26 December||Day of Goodwill|
About South African Holidays
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.
1 May Workers’ Day
Workers’ Day celebrates the role played by trade unions, the Communist Party and other labour movements in the struggle against apartheid. It originated from May Day, which was born from the industrial struggle for an eight-hour day.
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 commemorates these events.
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’).
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)
16 December Day of Reconciliation
16 December is a day of great significance in South Africa because of two historical events that took place on that date.
In apartheid South Africa 16 December was known as Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers in preparation for the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838 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.
The second historical event that took place on 16 December was in 1961, when Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), was formed. Prior to its formation, the ANC had largely approached the fight against apartheid through passive resistance, but after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, where peaceful protestors were indiscriminately shot by police, passive resistance was no longer seen as an effective approach in bringing apartheid to an end. MK mostly performed acts of sabotage, but its effectiveness was hampered by organizational problems and the arrest of its leaders in 1963. Despite this, its formation was commemorated every year since 1961.
With the advent of democracy in South Africa 16 December retained its status as a public holiday. South Africa’s first non-racial and democratic government was tasked with promoting reconciliation and national unity. One way in which it aimed to do this symbolically was to acknowledge the significance of the 16 December in both the Afrikaner and liberation struggle traditions and to rename this day as the Day of Reconciliation.
On 16 December 1995, the Day of Reconciliation was celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa for the first time.
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