Commonwealth Cultural Day

The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. commonwealth located in the Pacific Ocean. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, also known as the CNMI, includes 14 islands. The southernmost island of the Mariana Archipelago, Guam, is its own separate U.S. territory.

In the Northern Mariana Islands, there is a holiday known as Commonwealth Cultural Day that is observed on the first Monday in October every year. It is a public holiday that celebrates the culture of the islands and their remarkable people. It is also a day off for the general population, and many schools, government offices, and businesses are closed.

The History of Commonwealth Cultural Day in the Northern Mariana Islands

The Mariana Islands were some of the first islands settled by humans in Remote Oceania and were first settled by migrants from the Philippines. During the 16th century, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the area while sailing under the Spanish flag. In 1565, the Spanish made them part of the Spanish East Indies. In 1734, the Spanish then built Plaza de España, a royal palace in Guam.

After Spain’s loss following the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the U.S. and sold the rest of the Marianas to Germany under the German-Spanish Treaty of 1899. Germany would administer the islands as part of German New Guinea but did little to develop them further.

During WWI, Japan declared war on Germany and invaded the Northern Marianas. The Japanese then began to build up the island’s sugarcane industry. During WWII, Japan launched an invasion of Guam from its position in the Marianas.

On June 15, 1944, the U.S. military invaded the Mariana Islands and ignited the Battle of Saipan. During this battle, over 30,000 troops defended the islands, but after the battle, fewer than 1,000 of them remained. In 1978, the CNMI was formed. Not long after, Commonwealth Cultural Day was created.

Observing Commonwealth Cultural Day in the Northern Mariana Islands

This holiday is observed with festivals, food, music, and traditional dancing. It is also marked by various cultural art events across the islands. On social media, the hashtag #CommonwealthCulturalDay can be used to spread the word about it.

Where is it celebrated?
Northern Mariana Islands (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
October 14 Monday
Next year (2025)
October 13 Monday
Last year (2023)
October 9 Monday