Custom Chief’s Day

Observed annually on March 5th every year, Custom Chief’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Vanuatu. It’s a day that’s used to not only commemorate traditional tribal customs but also preserve them 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 try 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 to be the primary representative of what customs are important for the entire Vanuatu community.

The History Of Custom Chief’s Day In Vanuatu

In 1977, the National Council of Chiefs was set up by the government to propose some of the ways that traditional Vanuatu customs and traditions could be preserved. One of the things that were proposed was the creation of a holiday that would recognize the commitment and the role that the chiefs play in Vanuatu society. This day was Custom Chief’s Day and it was placed on March 5th every year.

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 these islands are inhabited.
  • The three largest islands of Vanuatu are Efate, Espiritu Santo, and Malakula.
  • Port Villa is the capital city of Vanuatu and the largest city in the country.
  • Port Villa has approximately 53,000 people living in it according to 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 like to eat. Dishes that include the core ingredients of seafood, taro, banana, yam, and coconut.

Where is it celebrated?
Vanuatu (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2023)
March 5 Sunday
Next year (2024)
March 5 Tuesday
Last year (2022)
March 5 Saturday