Tuesday, October 23, 2007

White Sunday

The second Sunday of every October usually brings about the favorite holiday of every child living in Samoa… White Sunday (or Children’s Day). Last year was my first taste of this holiday, since we arrived in country the Wednesday directly after it. It is a time when the kids to put on the church festivities, receive new clothes, shoes and jewelry, get served first at the huge Sunday meal, and generally spend all day in church. It’s also called 9 hour church day.

This year it was difficult for me to get into the spirit of the holiday since I ended up getting a pretty bad case of strep throat a few days before and hadn’t been able to make it in for antibiotics yet. I still watched the entire thing though. In the morning it starts out with a regular service as usual, except all of the pews and benches are pushed back and mats are laid down in the center of the church where all the kids sit. After the message (regular length of time), the first series of singing and dancing begins.

The first set of songs and dances are usually split up by Sunday Schools. Little kids start first and then the order moves on up until the older, unmarried adults. Then we break for to’ona’i, like a Sunday brunch. Last year we had a huge to’ona’i in the hall, but the families wanted to do individual ones this year. Since I do not live with a family I thought maybe I wouldn’t get food this time around, but Laupama sent her girls down with a fairly huge helping of taro, palusami, lots of fish and more. Then my neighbors sent over some ice cream and cake as well. I felt loved.

After eating and resting for roughly an hour, it’s back to church. There is another small service with a message and then the singing and dancing starts again. This time the groups that go are split up into houses in the village. Usually a “house” consists of many families semi-related to each other. My “house” is the entire school compound. This second round is always my favorite. The kids really get into it and even some of the adults participate. There are also a few dedications to those who have passed on over the year, old and young. Most of the people who passed on were between the ages of 65-75 which really shocked me. Uesiliana put on a special dedication and song for Paepae Viliamu (Laupama and Rev Viliamu’s daughter who passed away this last January of Rheumatic Fever). It was the same song that we all sang at her funeral.

Like I mentioned earlier, it was tough to sit through it all just because I was sick. In fact, I tried to leave a little early, but it was after the sun had set and the reverends didn’t want me walking home by myself in the dark.

Overall it was a good Sunday. However, I am glad we don’t have something like that in the states… after all every day is children’s day really. Enjoy the pictures below…

The church all decorated for the big day
All the pews pushed back so kids and adults can sit and perform in the middle of the church.
Kids dancing. My principal's daughter is in front, on the right.
Aufata concentrating real hard on the festivities... he's asleep!
Kids take a break from the long day of singing and dancing.
Everyone having a good time.
Uesiliana kids dancing.

The memorial song for Paepae. The picture in front is of her.
Kids line up for a dance.
My neighbors Luteru and his daughter Terisa.


At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is cool I love to see your photos especially the photo of our old church building its was more than 100 yrs old but its gone now.i was brought up in that church and our house is opposite the church building good to see some familiar faces esp the Uesiliana coll I hope u enjoy your staying thanks again for sharing your life Julya


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