The Power of the Public Holiday

South Africans are a funny bunch.  The one thing we love desperately…is a public holiday.  Especially if there is a long weekend involved.  The shops are packed.  The streets are full.  The braai is on.  It just gets crazier around month-end, I swear.  We have so many public holidays.  We celebrate, yes…But do we ever commemorate?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why my life turned out the way it has.  I’ve been asking Mumsy endless questions about her decisions made in raising my sister and myself the way she did.  Looking at the significance of days like Freedom Day, Youth Day, Heritage Day and Human Rights Day.  Today we celebrate Workers’ Day (generally referred to as May Day by older folk).  Do we know the history behind it?

January 2nd was historically celebrated as Tweede Nuwe Jaar.  Our government might’ve scrapped it but to me it’s a day which still holds relevance in the Cape.  Lest we forget that many of us are the descendants of slaves.  I would vote to bring it back.  Not to have another public holiday, but to have a day of commemoration for traditions of our earliest past.  The history of South Africa did not start in the 1960’s.  We have a very rich history.  Slavery was a part thereof…As were the Voortrekkers.

What is it we teach children today about our heritage as a nation? What is the portrait we’re wanting to paint?  Perhaps we should educate ourselves on the history of all our public holidays and try to commemorate accordingly.  Morbidity not intended.  I’m referring to the educational value that we might be losing in the process of getting our braai on.  Why not have a discussion around the fire.  One never knows what one might learn from others and what those days might mean to those around us.

Just a thought.

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One thought on “The Power of the Public Holiday

  1. Celebrate vs commemorate – a necessary distinction for all these days. Thanks for the reminder!

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