Heritage Day is a public holiday that is celebrated on September 24th every year in South Africa and is celebrated by South Africans living in other countries as well. It’s a day in which South Africans are encouraged to remember their roots and the diverse culture that forged them. A culture that’s known for its diversity.
The goal of this holiday is to help every South African embrace and accept all genders and all races. This holiday isn’t just about embracing and nurturing South African culture, however. It’s also about fun, and the day is usually celebrated by gathering together with friends and family and having a cookout or engaging in some other communal activity that’s fun for one and all.
The History Of Heritage Day
While Heritage Day wasn’t officially designated a holiday until 1995, it can actually trace its roots back much further. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, September 24th has been a holiday used to commemorate King Shaka Zulu, a Zulu king that died on September 24th, 1828.
That day was called Shaka Day and was celebrated because King Shaka Zulu is seen as a unifying figure who united many of the tribes and clans, and as a result combined many of their cultures into one big culture. During the 1990s, a proposed Public Holidays Bill was introduced into the New South African Parliament.
However, this bill omitted Shaka Day as a holiday which didn’t sit well with the Inkatha Freedom Party—a political party that had a large number of Zulu constituents. They objected to the bill, and as a result, Heritage Day was proposed as a compromise between the various political parties.
Heritage Day Customs & Celebrations
Since Heritage Day is a day that is used to remember the cultural heritage of South Africans, it is probably no surprise that many events are staged throughout the entire country on this day.
On this day, many South Africans have their friends over to their homes and have a BBQ, or what is known as braais in South Africa. A braai isn’t the kind of BBQ as Americans would recommend it. One thing that separates it from the American BBQ is that it’s never cooked over a gas grill, while in the U.S some people might use a gas grill.
The South African braais can be used to cook just about anything including farmer sausages, chicken, lamb, beef, and various types of game meat. Some South Africans may also cook what is known as braaibroodjies.
These are grilled cheeses that are cooked over an open fire. On this holiday, some South Africans use the day to visit exhibits or museum displays dedicated to the history of their country. Other events often include concerts, speeches, and other public celebrations.
It’s also common for various cultural heritage events to be observed all over the country. After all, it’s a day to honor and celebrate all South African cultures and is a good day for people to broaden their horizons.