Christmas in Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 3,000 miles southwest of the Hawaiian Islands. The Marshallese adopted Christianity with the coming of European colonists and Christian missionaries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The people of this 34-island nation have created a celebration of Christmas that is all their own, by blending Christian beliefs with their own cultural traditions and values. On Christmas Day huge baskets of food are exchanged and the entire day is spent watching various local groups, called jeptas, perform original songs, dances, and skits. Preparations for the great day begin months in advance. In fact, the Marshallese enjoy a holiday season that stretches from September through December. The activities of this long season of preparation, as well as those of the Christmas festivities that crown it, illustrate Marshallese concepts of well-being, abundance, love, generosity, prestige, beauty, and play. The following description of the Christmas season in the Marshall Islands summarizes the celebrations that take place on Ujeland and Enewetak atolls.