In Kiribati, elders are an important part of society. So important, in fact, that there are several holidays that are dedicated to them. Not only is their National Culture and Senior Citizens Day that’s observed between July 9th and 12th each year, but there are also Unimwane Day observed on July 15th and Unaine Day observed on July 16th.
It’s the latter holiday that we’re going to concern ourselves within this holiday guide. Unaine Day is a holiday that celebrates elder women. Although elder women didn’t have as high of a status in many of the islands, they still held an important position in society and had a wealth of information that could guide fellow members of their community.
The Role Of Women In Kiribati Society
In general, women in Kiribati are treated as subordinates to their male counterparts. Although they can own and inherit their own land, they generally don’t have access to as many resources as men in Kiribati did.
With that being said, they do have significant social obligations to their village. Obligations include fund-raising for the church, and sharing portions of food, money, and entertainment to other villagers — an obligation that’s referred to as meeting the buknibwai or “village shares.”
Observing Unaine Day
Although this is a holiday that’s observed across Kiribati, it’s not a public holiday, so businesses and government offices remain open on this day. And this day isn’t really celebrated with widespread events like it once was. Sometimes it’s acknowledged in speeches given by politicians, or by cultural events that are held across the country.
Some of the cultural events that may be held on this day include Kiribati folk music that’s based on a form of chanting that’s accompanied by body percussion and sometimes a guitar. There are also native Kiribati dances that are performed on this day.