Gospel Day

Gospel day is one of the main holidays of the Marshallese and is celebrated the first Friday of December.  It is similar to Thanksgiving Day in the US in that family and food are the main focus of the celebrations, however, the Marshallese people also attend special church services. The holiday commemorates the arrival of the first American Protestant missionaries who brought the light of God to the Marshall Islands. The holiday specifically celebrates the arrival of Reverend Dr George Pierson who landed his schooner, the Morning Star, on Ebon Atoll in 1857.

In addition to visiting family, eating food and attending church, Gospel day is celebrated by performing a skit recreating Dr Pierson landing the Morning Star on Ebon Atoll. A model ship is made and is filled with items that represent the useful things that the first Westerners brought to the Marshall Islands.  Examples of these items include: matches, bags of rice and live chickens.  The ceremony begins with a series of songs, sermons and prayers.

Jubilee Gospel Day is a major event that is celebrated every 50 years on Ebon Atoll. It has similar format as Gospel day but is much more elaborate. Dr Piersons arrival is recreated. The last Jubilee was celebrated in 2007.

Morning Star
George Pierson

References:

    • Etto an Raan Kein: A Marshall Islands History.  by Julianne M. Walsh, Ph.D.; in collaboration with Hilda C. Heine, Ed.D.; with the assistance of Carmen Milne Bigler, Mark Stege. 2012. 526 pp.