Heritage Day

Heritage Day

We all know that 24 September 2015 is going to be a public holiday and we are all very excited about it. We get to have a day off work, or school, or from other routine activities. We are also aware that we are celebrating Heritage Day, but not all of us are certain what this day is all about.


children in heritage day wear


On this day, South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people. But, why? Why do we celebrate this day?


Before 1995, Heritage Day was known as Shaka’s Day. This was to commemorate King Shaka Zulu, who united the Zulu nation into one of the biggest tribes in Africa. To this day people still go to his grave and celebrate him.


Post 1995 Shaka’s day was renamed to Heritage Day in order to incorporate the whole country and to celebrate the different traditions and cultures that exist in the country. This was also post the abolishment of apartheid and the government was making all kinds of efforts to unite South Africa as a country (a rainbow nation) and to have people of the different tribes, ethnicities, races and genders embrace and celebrate one another.


In true South African style, people have been celebrating the holiday by gathering with their families and loved ones, braaing and making merry with a couple of beers. This has led to media seeking to “re-brand” the holiday as National Braai Day in recognition of the South African culinary tradition of holding informal backyard barbecues, or braais.


Though not everybody welcomes this “re-branding”, it can be argued that braaing boerewors (a traditional South African sausage) is still something that unifies the nation and possesses elements of South African heritage.Some people still like to dress up for the day in their different traditional regalia, which can be interpreted as celebrating one’s own culture, side-by-side and hand-in-hand with other cultures. Whichever way you decide to celebrate Heritage Day, just make sure you are with your loved ones, waving the South African flag. The day holds a different meaning for different people.


Heritage Day

An office celebration depicting a proudly South African nation.