Gospel Day in Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an independent island country located near the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, home to approximately 58,400+ people. It consists of several main islands and dozens of coral atolls and is situated between Hawaii and the Philippines.
It is also a country where over 97% of the residents are Christians, which is why the first Friday in December is celebrated as Gospel Day in this country. This public holiday commemorates the arrival of the first Christian missionaries from the United States in 1857. Since it is a public holiday, it is a non-working day when many schools and businesses are closed.
The History of Gospel Day in the Marshall Islands
In 1857, Protestant Reverend Dr. George Pierson landed the Morning Star, his schooner, on Ebon Atoll and began teaching the indigenous residents about Christianity and the Gospel. His work, as well as that of subsequent missionaries, was extremely successful, as over 97% of the current population of the islands are Christian today.
Observing Gospel Day in the Marshall Islands
This holiday is celebrated similarly to Thanksgiving in the United States. However, there is less emphasis on food and more on dressing up and attending church. Once that has been done, people enjoy holiday meals with their families.
These meals can include Fruit Bat Soup, Banana Cakes, Lemon Cheesecake, and Macadamia Nut Pies. On this holiday, there are also theater productions that recreate Dr. Pierson’s landing on Ebon Atoll. During this ceremony, songs are sung, and prayers and sermons are delivered.
Every 50 years, a Jubilee Gospel Day is celebrated as well. This day is observed like Gospel Day in any other year, but the celebrations are larger and more elaborate. The last Jubilee Gospel Day was held in 2007, and the next one is scheduled for 2057. The one in 2057 is likely to be the largest Jubilee ever since it will mark the 200-year anniversary of Dr. Pierson’s landing.