Heritage Day in South Africa

When is Heritage Day in South Africa?

Heritage Day in South Africa is on September 24, 2022. It falls on Saturday.

How many days until Heritage Day in South Africa?

There are 121 Days left until Heritage Day in South Africa.

Is Heritage Day a public holiday in South Africa?

Heritage Day in South Africa is a public holiday celebrated on the 24th of September every year. This holiday is about the heritage and culture of a South African dating back to the early 1800 Zulu clans. Originally, this holiday was known as Shaka Day, or Shaka’s Day named after the Zulu King of Shaka.

Heritage Day Origin

In 1995, the New South African Parliament (post-Apartheid South African Parliament) refused to make Shaka Day an official holiday in the Public Holiday Bill. This decision received large amounts of negative feedback from the South African political party known as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which has a large Zulu membership. As a compromise to both the IFP and Parliament, Heritage Day was declared and became a national holiday.

In recent times, Heritage Day has become interchangeable with National Braai Day. The word braai is a South African equivalent for “barbecue” or “roast”. National Braai Day or Braai4Heritage was created by Jan Scannell (also known as “Jan Braai”) in 2005. Scannell promoted this new holiday name via a media campaign to attempt and rename Heritage Day. This attempt to rename Heritage Day as National Braai Day has received some backlash for losing the meaning behind the holiday and the history of events.

Who was Shaka?

Shaka, also known as “Shaka Zulu” was a Zulu King who reigned during the early 1800s, particularly from 1816 to 1828. The notion of Shaka still to this day interests many people who find interest in the Zulu Tribe. He is considered by many as an influential figure within the Zulu people. He helped unite many separate Zulu clans, thus forming a more cohesive Zulu Nation. He was tragically assassinated by his half-brothers on September 22, 1828.


Heritage Day Traditions in South Africa

Tribute to grave of King Shaka

An early tradition held yearly includes thousands of South Africans visiting the grave of King Shaka Zulu to pay tribute at the Shaka Memorial, located in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The memorial resides near his grave, which includes a monument that was placed in 1932 alongside the rock where he was reportedly sitting on at the time of his assassination in 1828.

Celebrations of Heritage Day include the importance of the many cultures of South Africa and paying tribute to those cultural heritages. Often, South Africa is referred to as the Rainbow Nation. Archbishop Desmond Tutu coined the name after apartheid came to an end. Rainbow Nation refers to the many various races, skin colors and cultures which represent the people who reside in the country. South Africa is also referred to as Mzansi by the residents.

South African Braais

This is a national holiday in which many choose to have a South African Barbeque. Almost any food can be barbequed. The event typically has a host who performs the barbequing. There are many foods that you would find at most barbeques from meat to salads. Foods are grilled over coals with real “fire”, this is not your traditional barbeque with gas grills. This is required to have a truly authentic South African Barbeque; the fire must be present and the grill hot.

While the holiday may have old roots to a past king, it’s very much a modern-day tradition. People can be found dancing, listening to modern music, and the foods could range from potato salad to corn on the cob. In the end, Heritage Day is about recognizing people’s struggles, cultures and success every September 24th. People in South Africa celebrate the day with great food, dancing and honoring the country’s past heritage.

Dates of Observance for Heritage Day
Year Date Day Holiday
2022 September 24 Saturday Heritage Day
2023 September 24 Sunday Heritage Day
2024 September 24 Tuesday Heritage Day
2025 September 24 Wednesday Heritage Day
2026 September 24 Thursday Heritage Day
2027 September 24 Friday Heritage Day
Upcoming South Africa Holidays
Holiday Date
Youth Day June 16, 2022
Father's Day June 19, 2022
Nelson Mandela Day July 18, 2022