Custom Chief’s Day

Observed annually on March 5th, Custom Chief’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Vanuatu. It’s a day used to commemorate and preserve traditional tribal customs on many of the islands that make up this archipelago.

Over the years, many of the islands in the South Pacific chain of 80 islands have resisted European influences to live as closely as possible to the principles of their ancestors. Although each island has customs that differ from one another, the Chief is considered the primary representative of the customs important for the entire Vanuatu community.

The History of Custom Chief’s Day in Vanuatu

In 1977, the National Council of Chiefs was established by the government to propose ways traditional Vanuatu customs and traditions could be preserved. One of the proposals was the creation of a holiday to recognize the commitment and role that the chiefs play in Vanuatu society. This day became Custom Chief’s Day and was set for March 5th annually.

Interesting Facts About Vanuatu

We wanted to include some interesting facts along with Custom Chief’s Day because not everyone is well-versed in the culture or community of Vanuatu. So, we added the following facts to help raise everyone’s understanding of this community.

  • Vanuatu is located in Oceania, in the South Pacific Ocean.
  • It’s an archipelago of about 80 smaller islands, 65 of which are inhabited.
  • The three largest islands of Vanuatu are Efate, Espiritu Santo, and Malakula.
  • Port Vila is the capital city of Vanuatu and the largest city in the country.
  • Port Vila has approximately 53,000 people living in it, according to the 2020 census data.

Observing Custom Chief’s Day in Vanuatu

This holiday is observed with traditional singing, dancing, and, of course, food. Across Vanuatu, there are a variety of dishes that people enjoy. Dishes include core ingredients such as seafood, taro, banana, yam, and coconut.

Where is it celebrated?
Vanuatu (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 5 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
March 5 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
March 5 Sunday