Yap Day in Micronesia Date in the current year: March 1, 2022

Yap Day in Micronesia Yap Day is a public holiday in the Micronesian state of the same name. It is dedicated to the traditional culture of Yap. The festivities usually include traditional sports and dances.

Yap is one of the four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia (the other three being Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae). It is mostly populated by the Yapese people, a Micronesian ethnic group (although, interestingly, it is believed that the Yapese people are anthropologically and linguistically closer to Melanesians than to Micronesians). Yapese culture is unique and diverse since it has been influenced by the cultures of the neighboring countries (Indonesia and Philippines), as well as the countries that used to rule over the islands (Spain, Germany, Japan and the United States).

Traditional dance is a major part of Yapese culture. Very formal and ritualistic, it is performed in groups by dancers wearing traditional clothes (grass skirts for women and loincloths for men) and accompanied by chanting and traditional instruments. The chanting and movements of the dance usually tell some kind of story. Today, traditional dances are generally performed on special occasions, including the annual Yap Day.

Yap Day has been celebrated every year since 1968. Back when it was created, Micronesia wasn’t an independent state, and Yap was a district of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands governed by the United States under a UN mandate. Yap District Day was established by the Yap Islands Congress in order to preserve and promote traditional Yapese culture. The date of March 1 was chosen because it falls during the dry season, which is the most pleasant season of the year and favorable for tourism. In 1979, the festival was renamed Yap Day.

Public celebrations of Yap Day grew in scope every year. For example, the program of the 1990 Yap Day included basket weaving, coconut husking, tug of war, juggling, bicycling and running, as well as five traditional dances. All these activities were aimed to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the culture of Yap.

The 1999 celebration was held over three days, from February 28 to March 2. Its main highlights were the opening ceremony conducted mostly in Yapese and a variety of dances. The dance program included different dances for men, women, boys, and girls, including stick dances, sitting dances, and standing dances. The celebration also included traditional games and competitions, such as basket weaving and target shooting, booths representing the culture of the outer islands, and food stalls.

The main event of Yap Day is hosted by a different village every year, and villagers spend several months rehearsing traditional dances. Guests from outer islands may attend the celebration, but they aren’t allowed to participate in dances. In addition to the above-described events and activities, the celebration usually includes fresh produce contests, traditional tattooing competitions, and a canoe regatta where participants build their own canoes.

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Category

Cultural Observances, Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Micronesia

Tags

Yap Day in Micronesia, holidays in Micronesia, cultural observances, regional observances, Yapese culture