In Kiribati, elders are an important part of society. So important, in fact, that there are several holidays dedicated to them. Not only is there National Culture and Senior Citizens Day 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 with in this holiday guide. Unaine Day is a holiday that celebrates elder women. Although elder women did not have as high of a status on 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 do not have access to as many resources as men in Kiribati do.
With that being said, they do have significant social obligations to their village. Obligations include fundraising for the church and sharing portions of food, money, and entertainment with other villagers—an obligation that’s referred to as meeting the bukinibwai or “village shares.”
Observing Unaine Day
Although this is a holiday observed across Kiribati, it is not a public holiday, so businesses and government offices remain open on this day. And this day is not really celebrated with widespread events as it once was. Sometimes it is 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 is based on a form of chanting that is accompanied by body percussion and sometimes a guitar. There are also native Kiribati dances that are performed on this day.