Day of Goodwill in South Africa

When is Day of Goodwill in South Africa?

Day of Goodwill in South Africa is on December 26, 2022. It falls on Monday.

How many days until Day of Goodwill in South Africa?

There are 172 Days left until Day of Goodwill in South Africa.

Is Day of Goodwill a public holiday in South Africa?

Day of Goodwill is a public holiday observed in South Africa every 26th of December each year. The day is celebrated with the purpose of upholding the virtues of compassion, kindness, and friendliness. The South Africans celebrate this day primarily by giving gifts or any items that could help the needy and the less fortunate individuals in their community. Being a public holiday, schools and government offices are suspended on this day. Most of the companies would also close down and give their employees an additional day off, on top of the Christmas Day holiday provided. Although majority of these companies would cease operation during the Day of Goodwill’s observance, other businesses remain open, e.g. shops, stores, convenience stores, parks, tourist attractions, and beach resorts. The country’s beach resorts are in fact, going to be extremely crowded on this day.

Day of Goodwill Origin

Prior to year 1994, South Africa celebrated the 26th of December with a different holiday called ‘Boxing Day’. Boxing Day originated from the United Kingdom in the Middle Ages (500 – 1500 CE). Although it is unknown when Boxing Day originally started, it was said that it was during the Middle Ages when the holiday was established. Several theories are associated of its establishment. One of the popular theories state that Boxing Day came from the practice of the priests during the Middle Ages when they used to open alms chests/boxes the day after Christmas Day (on the 26th of December). These alms boxes contain monetary donations and are then distributed to the poor and needy people. With such custom, it was said that Boxing Day was created, upholding the same values of giving donations to the less fortunate members of the society. Another theory associated with it is the one which involves the elite and rich people of England in the past (during the Middle Ages). It was said that these wealthy families would give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their workers and servants every 26th of December. The servants could not spend Christmas Day with their families since they need to serve their masters/employers during the occasion. Thus, their masters/employers would usually give them a day off the day after Christmas to give them time to enjoy the Christmas celebration with their loved ones. These Christmas boxes are then given to them on this day. The boxes provided include bonuses, leftover food from Christmas, clothing, and other useful items. These theories are said to be the reasons why Boxing Day was created and celebrated in the UK since the Middle Ages.

From Boxing Day to Day of Goodwill

South Africa, being a part of the British colony in the past, was influenced to observe this holiday as well. The South Africans have been celebrating Boxing Day (along with other Commonwealth countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and others) since it was instituted in the country way back 1910. However, on year 1994, the South African government decided to alter the holiday. From Boxing Day, it was changed to ‘Day of Goodwill’ instead which has become its title since then up until present. The change was made as a way of the country’s breaking off from its British colonial ties. It was altered under the governance of Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa. However, regardless of the holiday’s change, its practices have actually remained the same.

Day of Goodwill Traditions in South Africa

Day of Goodwill is a public holiday in South Africa wherein some heart-warming events are observed. The virtues of compassion and kindness are especially given focus on this day.

Giving Gifts or Donations

With the holiday’s observance, South Africans across the country celebrate the day by giving donations to the less fortunate people in the society. Since the holiday is celebrated every 26th of December (the day after Christmas Day), it is expected for many to give some leftover Christmas food and drinks to the poor people. Aside from food, other things are also given including monetary donations and items such as: blankets, clothes, footwear (shoes and slippers), story books (for the underprivileged children who cannot afford education), utensils, medicines, bathing/cleaning essentials (soaps, shampoos, detergents), bags, toys, and others. The donations given are typically placed inside the Christmas boxes, bags, or sacks.

Many of the South Africans observe this practice of giving gifts/donations during this holiday’s celebration. Thus, packing of bags or Christmas boxes containing these useful items (be it old clothes, shoes, or others) has become customary for the South Africans every time Day of Goodwill occurs. People are often seen bringing these Christmas boxes, bags, or sacks, to the local communities and organizations who will be the one to distribute the acquired items to the needy population across the country. The holiday is taken by the majority as a day to give back to the society by sharing their blessings in the form of donations (either big or small). On this day, several communities and organizations would also organize some charity events. The funds raised are of course going to be distributed to the underprivileged individuals.

Going to the Beach and Braaing

South Africa has always been famous for many things. From its scenic mountain views, well-renowned wildlife parks, to its beautiful beaches, the country has so many great things to offer. So, with the celebration of Day of Goodwill, many of them also take advantage of the holiday to do leisurely activities outdoors. Since the holiday happens on the 26th of December, the celebration falls during the country’s summer season (South Africa belonged to the Southern Hemisphere, thus, its seasons are a total opposite to those countries in the Northern Hemisphere). Hence, going to the beach is seen by many as one of the best ways to celebrate the holiday. After partaking on activities which aim to help the poor, this is usually followed by a trip to the beaches. On this day, it is not uncommon for the beach resorts in South Africa to be extremely crowded with people. Many friends and families tend to visit on this day to chill and relax, considering how warm the season is. Beach grilling or more commonly known as ‘Braaing’ in the South African language, is also typical on this day.

Other Popular Destinations on Day of Goodwill in South Africa

While majority of the South Africans prefer to take a trip to the beach during the celebration of Day of Goodwill, others also spend the day relaxing at home while having a braai (barbecue/grill) and hosting a small party with friends and families. Dishes served on the table are usually leftovers from the Christmas celebration. For other South Africans, going on a trip/vacation with their loved ones is also another way to enjoy this day. Camping, going to the movies, shopping, picnics in the parks, or even visiting the famous wildlife parks in the country, are fine choices also taken by several other people to celebrate the holiday.

The Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Park, and Mapungubwe National Park, are some of the best wildlife parks that are popular not just in South Africa but even in the international world. In these places, you can take a glimpse of lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, zebras, buffalos, rhinos, and other wildlife animals you cannot see daily. So, it’s definitely not a bad choice to spend the rest of the holiday in these locations (if you’re not a beach person) after donating something to the needy community. To conclude, there are so many options for the South African families to celebrate the Day of Goodwill. From helping others, especially the poor, to indulging on some leisurely activities either on the beach or other places, the holiday’s celebration all comes down to how one’s family sees this day. It totally depends on one’s family’s practices and traditions.

Dates of Observance for Day of Goodwill
Year Date Day Holiday
2022 December 26 Monday Day of Goodwill
2023 December 26 Tuesday Day of Goodwill
2024 December 26 Thursday Day of Goodwill
2025 December 26 Friday Day of Goodwill
2026 December 26 Saturday Day of Goodwill
2027 December 26 Sunday Day of Goodwill
Upcoming South Africa Holidays
Holiday Date
Nelson Mandela Day July 18, 2022
National Women's Day August 09, 2022
Heritage Day September 24, 2022