Unimwane Day

Observed on the 15th of July each year in Kiribati, Unimwane Day is a holiday during which the male elders of the village are honored. Most of the islands of Kiribati did not adhere to a traditional high-chief structure like other islands in the Pacific Ocean. Instead, the islands of Kiribati were ruled by councils made up of Unimwane.

They would decide on important matters and guide each village’s decisions. Although this structure is mainly a thing of the past, and this holiday is more commemorative than public, it is still observed by many people in Kiribati to honor their elders.

The History of Unimwane Day

As mentioned earlier, decisions in villages were guided by a Unimwane Council that met in Mwaneaba (otherwise known as Meeting Houses) to address and debate political, social, and economic issues. Since the elders were considered the wisest members of the community, it was believed that they would make the best decisions.

Nowadays, the Unimwane system is largely extinct, and most decisions are made by the government and the country’s court system. However, there is still a Unimwane Association that plays an important role and provides advice on significant decisions.

Observing Unimwane Day

This holiday is mainly observed with commemorative events, political speeches, and traditional Kiribati music and dance. This holiday honors the senior male elders of a village, so many people take the time to show them the respect they deserve. Since this is not a public holiday, it is not a day off for the general population, and most businesses remain open on this day.

Where is it celebrated?
Kiribati (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
July 15 Monday
Next year (2025)
July 15 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
July 15 Saturday