White Sunday or Children’s Day was this last Sunday. It is one of the biggest holidays in Samoa. Like most holidays here, we had that Sunday and Monday off as well. “What exactly is White Sunday?” I am sure most of you are asking. Well, it is a day for the children.
I am sure the details vary from village to village and church to church, but essentially it is a day where children hold the church service, singing, dancing and skits are involved. During the normal big Sunday meal, to’ona’i, the children are served first (usually adults are) and they get showered with new Sunday clothes, shoes and a few gifts.
White Sunday in my village, at my church, and on my compound was a lot of fun. It was the first time I have experienced it. When I first came to country a year ago it was just after White Sunday. The day starts when all the kids come to church decked out in new Sunday clothes, shoes, hair pieces, jewelry, tiaras – it’s big for them to get all decked up. Church started as usual first thing in the morning at 8:30am. The church was laid out so that the middle was cleared out for the kids to sit and for the skits and singing to take place. All the pews were facing towards the middle area. We had the usual singing, but then we had the skits. In the morning the skits and songs were spit up into Sunday school age groups. First the little, little kids sang songs (yelled them more like it) :) and had a short skit. It was fun to see some of the kids from the compound singing and dancing. Then each age group had a few songs and skits. Church ended at noon and we all walked back to get ready for to’ona’i.
The kids were all seated around a table in the middle of the big hall and served massive plates of food. The parents all served them. Most of the kids were wearing outfits of their choosing. Junior (maybe about 5) was wearing a full-on batman outfit with mask and bat ears. They ate a lot of food. While the adults ate the kids were served ice cream and vanilla wafers as well. Ice cream is usually only served at special events.
After food we had about an hour of rest before we had to get ready for the second service. Second service started at 3pm. It started out with the regular service, message, songs, and prayers. Then the skits and songs started. This time each group was split into areas of the village. So my compound was one group. I think there were about 8 groups. Each group put on about a half hour to 45 minute long presentation of skits and songs. The kids on the compound had some great skits and a few of the songs I knew. It was great to watch them dance and sing. It was also a time of socializing. I sat and chatted with one of my students for a good hour about family and things I don’t usually get to chat with them about. I laughed with the faletua, was teased and teased them back, took a ton of pictures, and had a good evening. The service ended around 8:30 and we all walked back together.
The next day was like a Labor Day in the states. Around 11am I went for a short bike ride and when I got back the faifeau called me over. The men were sitting around a circle drinking ava, the faletua and their kids were eating ice cream. I joined them and had some ice cream. Music was playing. After awhile the kids got up and played tag and dodge ball. I sat around with the women and danced and sang songs with them. We had food. After awhile we all got up and walked to the fresh water pool on the compound and went to swim around a bit in the water. It was a nice sunny day. We swam around awhile, teased each other, talked a lot and overall had a fun relaxing day off. I taught some of the women a few children’s songs I know. The one they liked the most was “One Elephant went out to play upon a spider web one day.” Grandma Steyh taught me that one. They taught me a couple songs as well. One was about the tree that we were laying underneath.
In the afternoon La La came over and we went for a long bike ride together. Monday was the first day in a long time that I had been able to go biking since I was sick for awhile and the rainy season is starting again.
So I would liken that Monday to a Labor Day. Now, some of you might ask why we don’t have a White Sunday or Children’s Day back in the states. I will tell you what my mom told me a long time ago when I asked this same question. I wondered why we have mothers and fathers day, but no children’s day. She said, because every day is a children’s day. So there you go.
As to this next week, it will be a blur of final projects and preparing for finals. In fact, these next few weeks will be busy and full. It will start to calm down a bit in the beginning of November when the entrance exams are for the juniors and seniors. Tomorrow, another new group comes to country which means more fiafia’s, more days I will be heading to Apia, more volunteers getting ready to leave and more going away parties. This Friday is my group’s year anniversary; we are having a BBQ.
So, until next time…