National Culture and Senior Citizens Day is celebrated on July 11 in Kiribati. This public holiday celebrates the traditions of Kiribati, including its emphasis on appreciating seniors in their society. In the past, councils of chiefs ruled the islands. Members of these councils were some of the oldest and most experienced people on the island. Today, most decisions are made by courts and the national government of Kiribati, and the tradition of honoring the elderly remains. Their councils are consulted on many social, political, and economic issues, acting as a sounding board for many decisions.
History of National Culture and Senior Citizens Day
The Republic of Kiribati is an independent island nation in the central Pacific Ocean. The name ‘Kiribati’ was adopted in 1979 when the country attained independence. It’s a localized version of the word Gilberts, taken from the country’s former name of Gilbert’s Island. In Kiribati, elders have always been an essential part of their society.
The leadership style of Kiribati around the 1400s was different from their neighboring countries of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa, which had a structure of high chiefs that ruled over their lands. Instead, Kiribati had councils of older men called ‘Unimwane,’ who converged in ‘Mwaneaba’ — meeting houses. They debated and addressed issues within their community, from disputes and crimes to guidance and counseling. Locals believed decisions made by the Unimwane were the best because council members were the wisest elders on the island, and they passed judgment after extensive deliberation.
These traditions survived interactions with Europeans, Asians, Samoans, and other communities in the 1700s and 1800s. Today, the people of Kiribati still revere seniors in their society. However, due to its lack of natural resources, Kiribati is one of the poorest nations. Many citizens don’t get the social support they need in old age. National Culture and Senior Citizens Day encourages the Kiribati people to take a more proactive role in caring for their elders.
National Culture and Senior Citizens Day timeline
Kiribati — then called the Gilbert Islands — becomes a British colony.
The British begin establishing institutions for self-rule in Tarawa.
Kiribati becomes a republic on July 12, 1979.
Kiribati becomes a full member of the United Nations.
National Culture and Senior Citizens Day FAQs
Why do we celebrate Senior Citizen Day?
We celebrate Senior Citizen Day to celebrate the accomplishments of seniors and show them how much we care.
What month is Senior Citizen Month?
May is Senior Citizen Month.
Is 60 considered a senior citizen?
In the U.S., anyone aged 62 or older is a senior citizen.
How to Observe National Culture and Senior Citizens Day
Donate to a retirement home
Donating items to retirement homes and nursing homes is a heartwarming gesture. Contact a nearby facility and ask what they need. Puzzle boards and games, diabetic socks, clothing, towels, and hygiene items are always welcome.
Help a senior in your life
Do you have an elderly relative or neighbor? Reach out to them, have a chat, and spend some time together. If you can’t reach them, pick up the phone and call. They’ll be glad to hear the voice of someone who appreciates them.
Learn more about Kiribati culture
Kiribati culture shows great respect for the elderly. National Culture and Senior Citizens Day isn’t the only holiday dedicated to them. There’s also Unaine Day and Unimwane Day to celebrate older women and men.
5 Interesting Facts About Kiribati
No land borders
Kiribati is an island nation, so they don’t share any land borders with neighboring countries.
First to celebrate a new year
Kiribati is the first country to welcome the New Year, as it's the furthest ahead on Greenwich meantime.
No agricultural practices
The soil in Kiribati is of poor quality, and scattered rainfall makes crop cultivation difficult.
Everywhere at once
Kiribati is the only country located in all four hemispheres.
Rising sea levels
Due to rising sea levels caused by global warming, Kiribati may not exist in 50 years, and fresh water on the island is growing scarce.
Why National Culture and Senior Citizens Day is Important
Elderly persons are wise
Behind every senior citizen is a lifetime of knowledge and experience. We can learn a lot from them and probably get a good laugh out of some of their life stories. It’s why all communities — like the Kiribati people — have looked to their elders for counsel and leadership.
Seniors are kinder
We’ve all heard of the mean senior citizen stereotype, but most are pretty generous. Elderly persons volunteer more and make more donations than middle-aged and younger adults.
Some day, we’ll be seniors
The elderly deserve our care and appreciation. We should be empathetic to them. It sets an example for others to follow in the future when we’ll be the seniors.
National Culture and Senior Citizens Day dates