How to make the most of your holidays in 2019 


In South Africa, we have been spoilt for choice when it comes to planning a long weekend. We have many Public and school holidays usually during or close to the same time. While you’ve been planning your December holidays, we’ve been thinking ahead. What and when are the public and school holidays for 2019 , and how should you plan your local or international getaways – to gain the most leisure time, with the least amount of leave days to put in at work?  

For those who haven’t planned this year yet, we’ve included December. 

You may or may not know yet, but December school holidays are a little shorter than usual this year. This is due to changes in the school calendar for 2019. While these December holidays is only 3 and a half weeks long, next year is set to have a much longer stretch. So, it really is all about planning. 

School ends 12 December 2018 and starts up again around the 9th of January. These dates may vary according to Province and private schools may have a different schedule.  There are also a couple of public holidays for you to think of when you plan your getaway (if you haven’t yet).

Sunday 16 December | Day of Reconciliation  

On this day South Africa remembers the tragic events of our country’s political past with the future in mind. South Africans can look to the promise of a shared future that does not repeat history and ignores race, culture and creed. Because it falls on a Sunday this year, Monday 17 December will be a public holiday.

Tuesday 25 December | Christmas Day 

This is an international holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. The day is celebrated across the world, recognised as a family day and a time of giving, often times regardless of religious beliefs. 

Wednesday 26 December | Day of Goodwill 

Traditionally known as boxing day, this was the day that tradesman and slaves would receive their Christmas Box. In South Africa this became Day of Goodwill in 1994, recognising the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar on which this day is St. Stephen’s Day. 

Tuesday 1 January | New Year’s Day 

And just when you think the holidays are over, you also have Tuesday 1 January. So you can easily sneak in another extra-long holiday or stretch your Christmas break by simply taking the Monday off (if your offices aren’t already closed). 

After the December holidays, you may need to hold your breath…for quite some time. before you can get away again. In fact, in 2019 there are only three official long weekends! That does not sound at all like what we are used to. But not to despair – there are several Public Holidays where with a day’s worth of leave or so, you can take a long weekend. 

The first school holidays (after January) for 2019 is around Monday the 18th of March to Monday 1 April. In between, you have at least one public holiday where you can join in on the fun with the kids for a long weekend. 

Thursday 21 March | Human Rights Day 

Commemorating the events of Sharpeville on this day in 1960, Human Rights Day gives us the chance to reflect on the road our country took to reach democracy. Tike the Friday off for a long weekend with the kids. 

Friday 19 April | Good Friday 

Easter can fall any time between 22 March and 25 April. Easter is decided through a complex process, but in short, it falls on the 14th day of the ecclesiastic lunar month.

Monday 22 April | Easter Monday 

Easter remembers the death and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the perfect long weekend for spending time with the family and taking a mini-break. 

Saturday 27 April | Freedom Day 

This important South African Holiday commemorates the first post-apartheid elections (27 April 1994). This year it falls on a Saturday and no public holiday on a week’s day.

Wednesday 1 May | Worker’s Day 

We celebrate workers day to recognise the role Trade Unions played, along with other labour movements, in the struggle against Apartheid. As this is mid-week, it will not make sense to take a long weekend – but what about exploring your backyard with a ‘staycation’? 

Sunday 16 June | Youth Day, Public Holiday 17 June 

Youth Day reflects on the protest of 16 June 1976, where youths raised their voices in unity to expose their unhappiness with the educational system of the day. This was known as the Soweto uprising of 1976. This was the first of many protests that led to the democracy of today.  

Friday 9 August | National Woman’s Day  

(Holiday on Monday the 10th of August this year) 

The 9th of August commemorates the march of 1956. On this day 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria as part of a petition against the pass laws, which restricted movement of people based on race. This is a long weekend without any leave needed. 

Tuesday 24 September | Heritage Day  

(Also known as Braai Day)  

Today we celebrate our heritage as a country and diverse nation. This holiday was instituted to promote nation-building. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “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”.  

Also known as Braai Day, this day has become a symbol of our Heritage, recognising the fact that all cultures in South Africa have the tradition of preparing food on an open fire. Take Monday off for an extra braai or two – or a weekend away. 

And then you have to wait until December again for a long weekend with limited leave. This year the holidays start extremely early, making up for the shorter December holidays of 2018. Stating at around 5 December and ending 7 January 2020. 

To summarise: There are three official long weekends – Easter Weekend, Youth day and Women’s day. 

For extra-long weekends with limited leave, take leave on 22 March, perhaps Monday and Tues 29 and 30 April, and Monday 23 September. In total, you would have taken 4 days leave and gained 13 days off. 

Start planning early and make the best of your holidays in 2019 – Find inspiration, bargains and the perfect weekend getaways in Travel Ideas Magazine or via our travel packages website page.

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