Fiji Day is observed on October 10 each year. The Republic of Fiji is a small island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, 1,100 miles northeast of New Zealand. Known for its archipelago (island groups) that contains hundreds of small islands, Fiji boasts pristine white beaches and a warm, breezy, tropical climate. Fiji Day is the culmination of Fiji Week, a period celebrating the Fijian people’s culture, religion, and history. It’s a time for happiness and festivities, but it’s also a time for introspection and remembrance. Fiji Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand as well.
History of Fiji Day
Fiji Day commemorates two key events in the island nation’s history, the ceding of Fiji to the United Kingdom in 1874 and Fiji gaining independence in 1970. Although the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to explore the archipelago in 1643, the British colonial government took control of Fiji on October 10, 1874. Fiji Day marks the end of Fiji Week, a series of cultural and religious events that celebrate the ethnic diversity of Fijian and Indian people, who inhabit 110 islands in the archipelago.
Fiji Day’s main events take place in the town of Levuka, which was the site where the deed of cession was signed. This event began a 96-year process that ended in Fiji finally gaining independence on October 10, 1970. These events honor Fiji’s rich history and contribute to local tourism.
Fijians celebrate this nationwide holiday by dressing up in traditional garb and reenacting the events of October 10, 1874. In the capital (Suva), citizens, dignitaries, and local leaders convene in Albert Park to listen to addresses by the President and Prime Minister of Fiji. The park is a historic site named after Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, to whom the country was ceded. Aside from these festivities, Fiji Day also involves military parades, the ceremonial firing of cannons, and the singing of the national anthem. The other communities inhabiting the numerous Fiji islands stage performances paying homage to their cultures.
Fiji Day timeline
After the Lapita, Melanesian people settle in what is today known as Fiji.
Abel Tasman becomes the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Fiji.
Europeans begin settling in Levuka, the first modern town in Fiji.
The London Missionary Society sends the first Christian missionaries to Fiji.
William Thomas Pritchard becomes the first British Consul to come to Fiji.
The Kingdom of Fiji becomes a constitutional monarchy, with a cabinet and legislature controlled by Australian settlers.
On 10 October 1874, Fiji officially becomes a British Colony under Queen Victoria.
Following the April Constitutional Conference in London, Fiji becomes an independent country after 96 years of British rule.
Fiji Day FAQs
Why does Fiji’s flag have a lion on it?
The lion on the Fijian flag represents the U.K., their former rulers.
What fruit is on the flag of Fiji?
The Fijian flag shows a bunch of bananas on the fourth quarter of its national coat of arms, symbolizing their agriculture.
What language is spoken in Fiji?
The three official languages are Fijian, Fiji Hindi, and English.
How to Observe Fiji Day
The best way to celebrate Fiji Day is to experience it on their home soil. There are hundreds of islands and many different cultures to explore. Fiji is a major tourist destination, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.
Try some Fijian cuisine
Food is one of the best ways to explore other cultures. Fiji Day features many traditional cuisines, from native Fijian dishes to Indian curries and Chinese dishes. Celebrate the day by sampling some delicious Fijian food.
Read About King Cakobau
Fiji’s king and chief warlord Ratu Cakobau is the man who ceded his country to the U.K. in the interest of increasing trade and promoting Christianity, and civilization. Without him, Fiji may not have turned out as it did. Celebrate Fiji by learning about this man and his role in the nation.
5 Interesting Facts About Fiji
Fijians used to be cannibals
Before the arrival of Christianity, Fijians cannibalized their enemies and used them as human sacrifices.
Firewalking started in Fiji
The firewalking ceremony was introduced by the Sawau tribe about 500 years ago.
Home to Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami
Fiji is home to the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere, which opened in 1994.
Fijians love rugby
Fiji has about 80,000 registered rugby players, meaning one in 10 people is a rugby player.
Fiji’s rare plants
There are about 800 species of plants in Fiji that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Why Fiji Day is Important
It unites different cultures
Fiji Day recognizes the European, Indian, Chinese, and Fijian people and their history in the country. Whether they’re Muslim, Hindu, or Christian, people of various faiths get the chance to observe their traditions.
It documents the Fijans’ journey
It may seem strange for a country to celebrate the day it became a colony, but Fiji Day takes note of the determined efforts to make the country independent, efforts that took almost a century to bear fruit. It’s a tribute to the resilience of Fijians.
It’s an excuse to give and receive
Gift-giving is at the heart of Fijian culture, and Fiji Day is no different. It’s customary for Fijians to give large quantities of food in community ceremonies. Other gifts include whale teeth and bark cloth.
Fiji Day dates