Thursday, October 16, 2008

White Sunday


White Sunday or Children’s Sunday is Samoa’s biggest holiday. Children are honored (ala Father’s and Mother’s Day) and for one day they are partially awarded adult positions. The day is part of the missionaries’ legacy, probably to recognize children as human beings. It has since morphed into Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, church recital, and eighth grade graduation.

Young and old children return to their home, making White Sunday weekend a traveler’s nightmare. For Savaii, it is as if all of Samoa originated on this island. They all take the ferry and buses at the same time. Monday is a national holiday, probably an effort to get everyone back in one day.

For the children, the traditional gift is clothing, usually a white outfit to be worn at church. They are served first at mealtime and are not required to serve the adults. They also perform songs and skits at church, which they have been rehearsing for weeks. The time is a chaotic frantic bedlam as brothers, sisters, cousins once twice thrice removed share stories.

Like similar family oriented holidays worldwide, White Sunday is steeped in tradition and expectations. As such the time can be a sad one as black sheep don’t return home and the day doesn’t go quite as well as it should. At the end everyone is exhausted wanting to make next year’s White Sunday even better.

Even on White Sunday, children are not excused from their early morning chores of picking up the leaves and horse manure.
Iva's Catholic church.

Entering church.

Bringing in the Holy Bible which is normally done by adults.

Processional let by girl in traditional Samoan ceremonial dress.

After morning church it is feast time. The only time children are served first.

One of the many groups performing during the afternoon church service.

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