Observed annually on March 1st every year, Yap Day is a legal holiday that’s observed in Yap State. Yap State is one of four states that are found in the FSM — or Federated States Of Micronesia. This is a holiday that’s designed to celebrate traditional Yapese culture.
It’s a cultural celebration that’s traditionally very welcoming to tourists, and people attending the festivities are encouraged to interact with the residents and take photographs. Since it’s also held during the height of the manta ray mating season, many tourists also 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. This is when the Yap Islands Congress created Yap District Day — a holiday that is meant to preserve and promote Yapese culture.
March 1st was chosen as the day on which the holiday was to be celebrated because it’s considered to be 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 of the fascinating facts about this tiny island located in the Pacific Ocean.
The Island Country Has Stone Money
Even though most trade on this island is done using the U.S. dollar, there is also a traditional form of stone money that’s 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 the next, instead, their ownership is recorded in an oral tradition.
The State Of Yap Covers 100,000 Square Miles
The State of Yap actually consists of 134 islands and atolls that cover an area of over 100,000 square miles. However, only 22 of those islands are populated. And it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the state could be opened to tourism.
Traditional Canoeing Is A Big Deal
Observing Yap Day
Traditionally, Yap Day is hosted by a different village every 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, catching crab, basket weaving, betel-nut tree climbing races, coconut oil-making competitions, lei-making, and traditional beach wrestling.