Traditional Celebration For Yap Day In Federated States Of Micronesia

Yap Visitors Bureau says 'all Yapese dances tell a story'

By Christy Sakaziro - Palau & Micronesia Humanities Project Director

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 10, 2017) – In Yap, the modern world exists alongside the traditional world. But on Yap Day, which takes place annually from March 1-3, traditions take center stage: traditional dances, crafts, tattoos, food and ceremonial dress, among other features of local culture.

Yap tradition, history and beliefs are celebrated, and there are various performances featuring Yapese of all ages, includung the women’s bamboo stick dance and the men’s standing and sitting dances.

According to the Yap Visitors Bureau all Yapese dances tell a story.

There is this dance “about a woman who was exiled from her village of Aloq for having leprosy. She slept under a banyan tree and saw this dance in her sleep night after night and eventually she was dancing. When she woke, she was cured. A spirit taught her this healing dance. Without leprosy she could return to her village. She began teaching the men how to perform this dance.”

The modern lifestyle, the YBV says, has only a partial grip on Yapese people.

“If you were to ask most Yapese people what they wanted to see in their future, their answer would be to modernize and keep their traditions.

“As faster WiFi and access to the larger world increases, Yapese culture and traditions remain strong.

“Here, many mornings start with a coconut husk fire, and some evenings the forest resounds to the beat of bamboo sticks, war cries and chants from a traditional dance practice in the village.”

Valerie Conley, a Yapese, says she’s proud that Yap continues to keep its culture and heritage alive.

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