Custom Chief’s Day of Vanuatu: March 5
Custom Chief’s Day is a public holiday in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu’s calendar of events, Chief’s Day is celebrated annually every 5th of March. The country observes the holiday to recognize the power on chieftains or locally known as ‘Jifs’ on matters concerning politics, economy, judiciary, among others.
History of Vanuatu Custom Chief’s Day
Vanuatu is an Island nation spread across the South Pacific Ocean just east of Northern Australia. This archipelago, of volcanic origin, was inhabited by Melanesian people, a region south of Vanuatu, before the Islands were occupied by the Europeans in 1880, particularly by the French and British, and claimed the archipelago under a British-French ‘condominium’ status as allowed by the International law. The condominium status allowed sharing of powers by the two countries.
The two European superpowers called the country the ‘New Hebrides.’ The continued sharing of power over the region continued until a call for liberation in 1970 eventually brought independence to the country in 1980.
Chieftainship is still a popular figure in Vanuatu although the government is formed around parliamentary democracy backed up by a constitution. ‘Malvatu Mauri’ is the lead National Council of Chiefs in the country with a leader elected by the representatives of the district council of chiefs. The primary purpose of this council is to feed the prevailing government with guide or direction that touch base on the interest of the ni-Vanuatu language and culture.
The chiefs in each village are highly regarded to have authority on all matters of Vanuatu life. They form the smallest political unit of Vanuatu society and are the most influential in the clan. To recognize the Jifs in their critical role in the country’s political system and in Vanuatu’s way of life, the Custom Chief’s Day was proclaimed to be celebrated every 5th of March yearly in 1977.
Vanuatu Custom Chief’s Day: Traditions, Customs and Activities
Lavish feast is done in each village in celebrating the Custom Chief’s Day. Each village hold their own festivity during the holiday including cultural shows and programs in public entertainment centres. Organized sports activities and matches are also held. Public entertainments such as carnivals are also available during the holiday.