Custom Chiefs Day Public Holiday

Custom Chiefs’ Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Vanuatu. It is celebrated annually on March 5.

Vanuatu is a small island country in Melanesia. It proclaimed its independence in 1980 during the Coconut War. Many of the country’s citizens have rejected European influence; therefore, tribal chiefs still play an important role in the political system of Vanuatu. This was demonstrated when the constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu created the National Council of Chiefs (Malvatu Mauru), an advisory body of tribal chiefs. The main task of the Council is to advise the government on matters concerning traditional culture and indigenous languages. The Council does not have any real legislative power, but its advice is always welcome. Its members are elected by district councils of chiefs.

Tribal chiefs also are very important people at village level, and their authority is so great they are honoured with an annual public holiday. On March 5, Ni-Vanuatu paid its respect to the chiefs and celebrated their national culture. The celebration of Custom Chief’s Day includes lavish feasts, sporting events, carnivals, agricultural fairs, arts festivals, singing, dancing, and other festivities.

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