Day of Reconciliation on 16 December – South Africa

Every year, Day of Reconciliation is celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa on 16th December.

Day of Reconciliation - South Africa - 16 December

The day is also the de facto start of the South African summer holiday period being the first of four public holidays to fall in a sixteen day period at the height of summer, the other days are Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.

If we go by history, the Day of Reconciliation was established on December 16, 1838, in commemoration of the victory of the Voortrekkers over Dingane (also spelled Dingaan) and the Zulus. Earlier the day was known as the Day of the Covenant or Dingaan’s Day.

The “covenant” here referred to the vow that Andries Pretorius (1798-1853) and the Voortrekkers made with God as they prepared for the Battle of Blood River: that if they were victorious, the day would be observed as a Sabbath and a church would be built in gratitude.

Later on during the period of apartheid (An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites), it was called Day of the Vow.

When South Africa renounced apartheid and held its first democratic election in 1994, this holiday came into effect as a national holiday with the new name as the Day of Reconciliation with an intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity.

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