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New Year's Day

New Year's Day 2019 and 2020

As South Africa follows the Gregorian Calendar, it keeps 1 January as New Year’s Day just like the rest of the Western World. However, it also provides by law that if New Year’s Day lands on a Sunday, the following Monday shall be an off-work day.

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Many will gather on 31 December with family to welcome the New Year at the stroke of midnight. Firecrackers may be set off, and fireworks displays may be attended as well.

Tens of thousands gather by Table Mountain in Cape Town to celebrate the arrival of the new year. And there are other major public gatherings throughout the country.

Public transport will be busy, and some businesses will be open at least part of the day. But government and financial institutions will close down, so tourists should plan ahead accordingly.

In South Africa there is also an idea of “second New Year”, that has a connection to slavery days when slaves would be given only one day off per year – the day after New Year’s Day. They would take advantage of the off-day to visit friends and family, don festive garb, sing, dance, and march in street parades. Later, traditions of brass band, music, dress-up, and face-painting competitions in the streets of Cape Town also grew, and these remain to this day.