Heroes' Day (South Africa)

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Paul Kruger, after whom Kruger Day was named
A young Kruger retrieves the body of a fallen commander during the siege of Makapansgat

Kruger Day or Heroes' Day was a public holiday in South Africa from 1882 to 1899 and again from 1952 to 1994, celebrated annually on 10 October in South Africa. The day was named after Paul Kruger, a Boer resistance leader against British rule and later president of the South African Republic, who celebrated his birthday on October 10 . The day was used to underline the values and principles of the Afrikaner people.[1]


Kruger Day was first celebrated in 1882, while Paul Kruger was still alive. Kruger was then the vice president, but because he enjoyed so much respect from his people, his birthday was commemorated with a day of feasting. The following year it was officially introduced as a public holiday.

20th century[edit]

Use of the holiday ended in 1902, after Britain defeated the South African Republic in the Second Boer War. In 1910, with Unification, the day was still not recognized as a public holiday, though popular celebrations of a heroes' day did take place. An event in Cape Town on 25 March 1916 included a march by banner-carrying students, followed by several public addresses in the city hall.[2]

A few years after the National Party came to power in South Africa, the day was introduced again as Heroes' Day (Afrikaans: Heldedag) from 1952 onward. From time to time, later governments referred to it as either Heroes' Day or Kruger Day. With the ANC government coming to power in the 1994 elections, a new set of holidays replaced the former ones, and Kruger Day was no longer recognized as a public holiday.

Post-apartheid status[edit]

Heroes' Day remains one of six holidays in the Afrikaner enclave of Orania,[3][4] and events in the spirit of Heroes' Day are promoted by some schools and cultural organisations,[5][6][7] and held on the Saturday nearest 10 October.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ SA moet ook nuwe helde soek, Beeld, 18 Oktober 2006
  2. ^ "Heldedag word in Kaapstad gevier". 1916: Studente vier Heldedag. gelofteland.org. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  3. ^ Strydom, Lida (30 March 2011). "Afrikaners is plesierig en dan maak hulle só . ." Beeld. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  4. ^ Strydom, John (11 October 2013). "Heldedag 2013". Orania. orania.co.za. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Heldedag - 11 Oktober 2008". Die Verkenners, Paardekraal. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  6. ^ "10 October 2012 - Krugerdag - Heldedag". Radio Pretoria. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  7. ^ Correspondent (12 July 1997). "Dié 'ou' vakansie-dae steeds gedenk". Beeld. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.