Heritage Day on September 24 is a day that celebrates South Africa’s roots, their rich, vibrant, and diverse cultures. South Africa is called the ‘‘Rainbow Nation’’ due to its color and diversity, and this is why Heritage Day exists. Its goal is to nurture and embrace South African culture for what it truly is, accepting all races and genders. The day is usually celebrated with a cookout known as a braai and we suggest that you channel your inner South African and celebrate with a feast of your own.
History of Heritage Day
September 24 was previously known in South Africa as Shaka Day, a day commemorating the Zulu King of Shaka. He was known for uniting the Zulu clan together and forming the Zulu nation. Every year, South Africans would gather at his grave to honor him. In 1995 a request for the day to be confirmed as an official holiday was rejected. After receiving some pushback from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a majority Zulu party, it was decided that the day was needed and would be known as ‘‘Heritage Day.’’
Since then South Africans have celebrated Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many different cultures that make up their nation. Events are held across the
country with some people choosing to dress up in traditional attire.
There was a media campaign in 2005 that sought to have the day recognized as National Braai Day, to acknowledge the backyard barbeque tradition, but the holiday is still officially recognized as Heritage Day.