Tonga celebrates King Tupou I Day every 1 December or the following Monday if it falls on a weekend. The day looks back to the ascent to the Tongan throne of Taufa’ahau, who then became known as King Tupou I. This king is remembered as the “Father of Modern Tonga” and as the founder of the current dynasty of Tongan kings.
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A civil war had ripped Tonga apart for six years, but in 1845, the war ended and Tupou I became ruler of a united Tongan kingdom. He controlled all of the island of Tonga and several nearby archipelagos.
Tupou I is also remembered for being a strong Christian leader who influenced all later Tongan kings to claim the Christian faith as well. At one point, Tupou I officially made an “offering of Tonga to God”. And Tonga’s current motto, “Tonga and God are my heritage”, came originally from his lips.
Yet another reason Tupou I is honoured is his introduction of freedom of religion and of speech. He also influenced the inclusion of Sunday as a public holy day in the nation’s constitution. That provision still remains to the present day.
On King Tupou I Day, there are many patriotic and religious concerts that take place in Queen Salote College Hall. That is the main event, but you will also find other smaller events and people celebrating the day privately with their families.