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The day after Christmas is celebrated as Day of Goodwill on December 26 in South Africa. A public holiday throughout the country, the lingering spirit of Christmas continues, as South Africans bask in the sunshine, enjoy a day at the beach, savor long lunches, and just spend some leisure time outdoors with friends and family. The holiday also gives citizens a chance to give back to society through volunteer work and charity affairs that are organized.
History of Day of Goodwill
On the Day of Goodwill, South Africans recover from the Christmas festivities and treat themselves to a day of fun, food, and sunshine. The day was originally celebrated as Boxing Day, but in 1994 the name of the holiday was changed to Day of Goodwill as a sign of severance from the region’s colonial past. Boxing Day is essentially a British holiday during which ‘boxes’ of gifts or money are donated to the needy a day after Christmas. Despite the name change, the traditions of the holiday more or less remain the same in South Africa. It is also a public holiday so people can relax and unwind on their day off.
The weather is warm and pleasant as it is summer during this time of the year in South Africa so, naturally, more unconventional Christmas activities are common, like heading to the beach.
In 1652, the first Dutchmen stepped onto South African soil. Before long, the region became a Dutch colony. This continued until 1795 when the British took over rule of South Africa. The Dutch reigned once again in 1803, after which the British again took control 3 years later. This conflict continued back and forth between the British and the Dutch for many years. Finally, the British granted South Africa partial independence, with the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. South Africa’s exit from the Commonwealth and declaring itself a Republic in 1961 marked the beginning of the end of colonial rule. In 1994, the same year Nelson Mandela became president, Boxing Day was changed to Day of Goodwill.
Day of Goodwill timeline
The earliest Dutchmen arrives in South Africa.
On May 31, South Africa is granted partial independence and Louis Botha becomes the first prime minister.
South Africa leaves the Commonwealth.
Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa.
Day of Goodwill FAQs
What is Boxing Day called in South Africa?
Boxing Day is officially known as Day of Goodwill in South Africa.
Is Boxing Day a public holiday in South Africa?
Yes, so those unlucky ones who couldn’t get some time off over Christmas at least get an extra day to let the Christmas lunch settle before going back to work.
Why is Boxing Day on the 28th in South Australia?
In South Australia, the proclamation of South Australia by Captain John Hindmarsh as a British province in 1836 led to the celebration of Boxing Day or Proclamation Day on December 28.
How To Celebrate Day of Goodwill
Make a donation
Day of Goodwill wouldn’t be complete without donating to charity to help the poor or giving leftover food to the homeless.
Attend a comedy night
Attend an entertainment event taking place in your local area. If you’re in Cape Town, we suggest heading over to the Cape Town Comedy Club to laugh the exhaustion of the holiday season away.
Head to the beach
Surf’s up and the Sun’s out! Head to the beach with your family and friends and burn off some of those festive meals with beach activities or just relax on the warm sand.
5 Facts About Boxing Day Around The World
Saint Stephen's Day
In Ireland, Boxing Day is celebrated as the Feast of Saint Stephen or Saint Stephen's Day.
Christmas part 2
In some European countries, it is considered as the Second Christmas Day or simply Christmas II.
Also a day for sporting events
In the UK, Boxing Day is observed with the kick-off of football games and horse racing.
People still get confused by the word ‘boxing’
A good majority of people around the world who don’t celebrate Boxing Day, still think it refers to the sport.
Another way to relax and unwind
In Canada, Australia, UK, and New Zealand, Boxing Day is the biggest shopping day of the year, beating Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Why We Love Day of Goodwill
Here comes the sun
We think it is pretty amazing that Christmas occurs during summertime in South Africa. A wild idea for most of us, but celebrating the festive season and its accompanying holidays on warm, sunny days seems like a lot of fun!
Appreciating what you have
The Day of Goodwill is a great day to reflect on our needs and wants. With all the Christmas presents accumulated, this day is more geared towards charitable acts.
Only in South Africa!
Rather than following the traditional Boxing Day originally implemented by the colonial British, it is great to see South Africa make a spin-off holiday that they can better identify with, all the while staying true to the essence of the main holiday,
Day of Goodwill dates