The Easter Island Tapati Celebration
The most colorful and warm proof of the cultural rebirth of Easter Island is the celebration that takes place once a year at the end of January and the beginning of February. It is an impressive week, which mobilizes the whole island.
Indeed, the islanders celebrate the Tapati Festival (literally, “the week”) with exuberance, where two teams compete against each other for days and nights. Each team is composed of one part of the town of Hanga Roa, and it is “symbolically” directed by a queen, a beautiful young female who competes with the rival from the other clan for the symbolic title of “queen of the island”, which lasts for a year.
This competition is much more than the frivolous election of a “miss”. On the contrary, it is a pacific confrontation between two clans who race each other on banana logs through vertiginous slopes, hold surfing and canoe competitions, traditional singing and dancing contests every night, sculpture contests, etc. The celebration gives every islander the opportunity to express their talent, depending on their skills to score for their candidate. The chosen queen belongs to the team that collects the highest amount of points.
Today, the Tapati festival has become the central point of the Rapa Nui calendar, and it is the most cheerful and creative moment of the year.