Heritage Day is a public holiday in south Africa that is always celebrated on 24 September. If Heritage Day falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is observed as a public holiday.
Known as Erfenisdag in Afrikaans, the intention of Heritage Day is for all South Africans to celebrate their heritage, the diversity of their beliefs and traditions and remember their struggles against Apartheid.
In 2005, a media campaign was launched to re brand Heritage Day as National Braai Day. Braai is the Afrikaans for barbeque. The intention was to recognise the South African culinary tradition of holding informal backyard barbecues.
While some felt this was an irreverent way to celebrate South Africa's rich heritage, the response has been embrace the idea with South Africa's National Heritage Council endorsing the idea. In response the National Braai Day campaign changed the name to Braai4Heritage.
Celebrating Heritage Day
South Africans celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa.
Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.
"The day is one of our newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live.
Within a broader social and political context, the day's events…are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.
Heritage has defined as "that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation."
(Statement issued by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, 17 September 1996)