October 12th was one of Samoa’s biggest holidays–White Sunday. White Sunday originated with the arrival of the London Missionary Society in 1830. It always falls on the second Sunday of October, and it is a church service in honor of the children (in Samoan it is known as “Lotu Tamaiti,” or “The Children’s Service”).
My SIT group went back to our Lotofaga families for the occasion. On Sunday morning, we all woke up, dressed in white, and went to the church. The pastor led the congregation of adults in a brief prayer, then the children of the congregation filed into the church while singing and dancing. On White Sunday, aside from the opening and closing prayer, the pastor has no direction over the service. Instead, it is led by all of the children of the congregation. The service was full of singing, dancing, short skits, and memorized Bible verses. It was a fun time for the children performing and leading the service, as well as the adults watching.
After the service, children go back home and have a big feast. Normally the Sunday brunch, or “to’ona’i,” is quite large, however on White Sunday it is enormous. There are piles of fish, chicken, pork, sausages, chicken stew, macaroni and potato salad, oka (raw fish in coconut milk), palusami (taro leaves in coconut milk), mackerel and coconut milk, taro and breadfruit. I came nowhere near finishing my portion. And because White Sunday is always about the children of the family, they get to eat first (usually they are the last to eat because they have the lowest status in the family), and they get to have cake and ice cream, things only eaten on White Sunday or other holidays. They also receive a few gifts as well, such as new clothes, or a few toys. It was a really fun time to be with my host family.
I felt very lucky indeed to be able to visit the Samoan village on White Sunday, one of the most exciting times of the year.