The Day of Reconciliation is a public holiday in South Africa held annually on 16 December. The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity for the country. The date was chosen because it was significant to both Afrikaner and African cultures. The government chose a meaningful date for both ethnic groups because they recognize the need for racial harmony. The celebration of the Day of Reconciliation can take the form of remembering past history, recognizing veteran’s contributions, marching and other festivities.
The origins of the celebration for the Afrikaners goes back to the Day of the Vow, celebrated on 16 December 1864 in commemoration of the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River. For African people, the date has been significant as one of both peaceful protests against racial injustice and of the founding of the more militant Umkhonto we Sizwe by the African National Congress (ANC) on 16 December 1961. Nelson Mandela and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission chose a day that was special to both ethnic groups in the country in order to work on healing the damage done by Apartheid.