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White Sunday – October 8, 2023

White Sunday is a national holiday in Samoa that is observed every year on the second Sunday of October. The day will be marked on October 8 this year. White Sunday, also known in Samoan as ‘Lotu Tamaiti,’ or ‘Children’s Service,’ is a notable day in the calendar of Samoan children. On this day, families and communities commemorate childhood by honoring the children in their midst. In Samoa, children dress in their finest white attire, perform for their parents, and get served their favorite dish. Samoan children are treated to their favorite cuisines and get gifts all day long. Additionally, they receive unique privileges not ordinarily available to them, and some churches even offer baptisms for the young on this day.

History of White Sunday

Although there are various theories concerning the origins of White Sunday, it is widely assumed that it was popularized by Christian missionaries who landed in Samoa in the 19th century. However, the first White Sunday was marked in June 1898, when the London Missionary Society agreed to establish a special Sunday for children during its annual conference in June of that year.

A few years later, at the International Sunday School Conference in Rome in February 1909, it was decided to name the third Sunday of October the International Children’s Sunday, and thus the Samoan White Sunday was moved from June to the third Sunday of October. This chosen day didn’t last long, and it was finally moved to the second Sunday of October to coincide with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which were on the second Sundays of May and August, respectively.

White Sunday is an intriguing Samoan event since different versions of its inception in Samoa differ. While some believe it is a Christian adoption of an indigenous pre-colonial-contact festival of specific planting and harvesting seasons, others believe it was intended to remember the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed almost a fifth of the Samoan population, many of whom were children.

White Sunday was expanded from Samoa to become a national holiday in six other countries in 1998. These were the United States, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and American Samoa. Today, all Christian churches in Samoa observe and celebrate White Sunday. On White Sunday, most children are baptized in specific congregations across Samoa.

White Sunday timeline

19th Century
Missionaries in Samoa

It is believed that Christian missionaries arrive on the shores of Samoa and introduce White Sunday.

1898
A Special Sunday

A special Sunday is set up for children by the London Missionary Society during its annual conference.

1909
International Children's Sunday

A resolution is passed in Rome to make the third Sunday of October the International Children's Sunday.

1918
The Influenza Pandemic

A Deadly Influenza Pandemic from New Zealand kills numerous Samoan children

1998
A Centenary Celebration

White Sunday expands from Samoa to six other countries after 100 years.

White Sunday FAQs

Why is it called White Sunday?

Even though in the United Kingdom the term “Pentecost” is more often used, the church has traditionally referred to the celebration as “Whitsun” or “Whit Sunday.” The name is said to originate from Pentecost being a day set aside for baptisms, during which participants would dress in white.

What is the national dish of Samoa?

The national dish in Samoa is “Panipopo.”

How many years has Samoa been independent?

60 years.

White Sunday Activities

  1. Attend a White Sunday service

    On White Sunday, churches in Samoa and neighboring nations host special programs in which youngsters perform various creative performances that have been rehearsed. Samoan children are allowed to demonstrate their talents in a variety of ways, including songs, dance skills, and even skits.

  2. Dress up in white clothing

    Women and children in Samoa dress entirely in white for White Sunday. Some of them dress in red and blue to represent the colors of the Samoan flag. For men, the White Sunday outfit consists of white shirts and shorts.

  3. Treat your favorite youngster

    Children enjoy being treated special and White Sunday provides the ideal opportunity to spoil any young person in your life. Children in Samoa frequently get to eat their favorite food and receive gifts from family members and older friends on White Sunday.

5 Fascinating Facts About Samoa

  1. High Christian population

    Approximately 98% of Samoans are Christians.

  2. Forestation

    Approximately 60% of the country is forested.

  3. "The Rock" is of Samoan descent

    Former wrestler and one of Hollywood's biggest performers, Dwayne "The Rock'' Johnson, is born to an African-Canadian father and a Samoan mother.

  4. Samoans and tattoos

    ‘Tatau,’ the traditional name for tattooing in Samoa, is a symbol of Samoan spirituality and culture.

  5. Men can wear skirts

    Known as ‘lavalava’ in this region, even police officers are frequently spotted wearing traditional macho skirts.

Why We Love White Sunday

  1. It’s an opportunity for children

    In several churches, special programs are organized in which children are given a stage to display various artistic performances. This encourages many of them to be more daring and uncover skills they might not have discovered otherwise.

  2. It fosters development

    Many well-known Samoan entertainers and performers now attribute their ability to speak and act in public to their White Sunday experiences as children/youth. Years of hard learning and practice inadvertently contribute to the development of the children into very skilled orators when they grow up.

  3. It’s a day of fun for kids

    All the kids have to do on this special children's day in Samoa is dress up in their best white apparel and get spoiled all day with food, toys, and affection. It also promotes communal unity because every child from every family participates in White Sunday activities.

White Sunday dates

YearDateDay
2022October 9Sunday
2023October 8Sunday
2024October 13Sunday
2025October 12Sunday
2026October 11Sunday

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