Yap Day

Observed annually on March 1st, Yap Day is a legal holiday observed in Yap State, one of the four states in the FSM—or Federated States of Micronesia. This holiday is designed to celebrate traditional Yapese culture.

It is a cultural celebration that is traditionally very welcoming to tourists. People attending the festivities are encouraged to interact with the residents and take photographs. Since it is also held during the height of the manta ray mating season, many tourists show up to scuba dive and observe the beautiful manta rays.

The History of Yap Day

The history of this holiday can be traced back to 1968 when the Yap Islands Congress created Yap District Day—a holiday meant to preserve and promote Yapese culture.

March 1st was chosen as the day on which the holiday was to be celebrated because it is considered the driest and most pleasant part of the year. In 1979, the holiday was officially changed from Yap District Day to Yap Day.

Facts About Yap

Although some people may have never heard of Yap State, it has an interesting culture that dates back over a thousand years. Below are some fascinating facts about this tiny island located in the Pacific Ocean.

The Island Country Has Stone Money

Even though most trade on the island is done using the U.S. dollar, there is also a traditional form of stone money that has been used by the Yapese culture for hundreds of years. Huge stones called Rai stones are often passed between families as payment for things such as dowry.

These huge stones aren’t physically moved from one family to another; instead, their ownership is recorded in an oral tradition.

The State of Yap Covers 100,000 Square Miles

The State of Yap consists of 134 islands and atolls that cover an area of over 100,000 square miles. However, only 22 of those islands are populated. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the state could be opened to tourism.

Traditional Canoeing Is a Big Deal

The Yapese have been building traditional canoes for hundreds of years—a practice they continue to this day. They hand-carve their vessels and then sail them across the Pacific to Hawaii and Palau.

Observing Yap Day

Traditionally, Yap Day is hosted by a different village each year. During each event, both traditional and Western foods are served, and many traditional dances are performed. There are also competitions that include traditional Yapese games, fresh produce contests, and even traditional tattooing competitions.

Other activities that happen on this island include chicken fighting, crab catching, basket weaving, betel-nut tree climbing races, coconut oil-making competitions, lei-making, and traditional beach wrestling.

Where is it celebrated?
Micronesia (Local holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 1 Friday
Next year (2025)
March 1 Saturday
Last year (2023)
March 1 Wednesday