The Culture, Traditions, and Heritage of Vanuatu

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The culture of Vanuatu is a little complicated.  It has survived generations of strong foreign influence retaining local diversities but variations have penetrated.  There are differences, even at one island, that make it hard to identify the dominant culture in the country.  There are those who follow matriarchal rules while patriarchal rules are also practiced.  Leadership can be attained through advancement in their men’s societies, personal abilities, or simply by inheriting a chiefly title.   

The different regions in the country offer different kinds of cultures.  For example, in the North, the wealth of a person is not measured in how much a person has but on how much one can give away.  In the Central region, Melanesian cultural systems are prevalent while in the South region, leadership and privileges that comes with it are given to men with titles. 

In Vanuatu, a pig with rounded tusks is regarded as a symbol for good wealth.  Men have to undergo a coming-of-age ceremony as a ritual for initiation for manhood.  It is also the time they usually have their circumcision.  The men have a meeting point called “nakamal” in most villages.  It is also where they gather to drink their kava.  There are sections in their villages that are for male or female only.

Marriages in Vanuatu are mostly fixed giving them a high marriage rate.  Marriage is an important event to continue good relations to their own kin groups and also for the exchange of goods.  Husbands and wives sleep apart during the menstrual period of the wife.  Marriages can be religious, civil or customary.  Vanuatu has a very low divorce rate.   Sports are very popular all throughout the country.  Cricket is played by the entire nation.  They have at least 8,000 registered cricket players already.  Rugby is also quite popular.  Women play volleyball while most men play soccer.

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