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Happy White Sunday Samoa!

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Happy White Sunday Samoa!

It’s that one day of the year, White Sunday.

“We want to wish all children of Samoa a Happy White Sunday today,” said Reverend Isaako Taualalo of the Methodist Church at Saina, “for they are the gift from the Lord.”

He said that the day ‘is a day for parents and communities to acknowledge and celebrate childhood by hosting special programmes during church services which include scriptural recitations, biblical story re-enactments, and creative dance performances. The general practice of the day is that children are given the responsibility of planning the church service.” In the Samoan language the holiday is called "Lotu Tamaiti," literally "Children's Service" or "Prayer for Children."

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There are differing opinions about the origins of this holiday.

Some believe that White Sunday to be a Christian adaptation of an indigenous pre-contact celebration of certain planting and harvesting seasons.

Others said that the holiday coincides with a family celebration that became widespread in the 1920's in commemoration of Samoans who succumbed to the influenza epidemic of 1919; this epidemic which was introduced through the ambivalence of the New Zealand colonial administration.

It is estimated that it took the lives of between one fifth to one quarter of the Samoan population.

Reverend Fa’apa’ia Tariu of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.). said that White Sunday originated from Malua.

“In 1830 John Williams of the London Missionary Society also known as C.C.C.S. landed on Savaii. He settled in Samoa as a missionary and at that time that the church started, the missionaries made a special service for the children.”

“So it was the children of those first Samoan teachers at Malua Theological College and the Missionaries who started up this special service for children which is now called ‘White Sunday.”

“For they (children) are a reward from Him,” he said.

Children also receive gifts like new clothes and others on White Sunday and are allowed privileges normally reserved for elders, such as as being the first to be served food at family meal times.

 

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