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White Sunday — A time to cherish one of God’s most precious gifts

White Sunday boys in the finery

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Youth of the Fagaima Methodist Church posed for this Samoa News photo during the White Sunday Church service in October of last year.  

ROLL FORWARD TO WHITE SUNDAY 2020 — in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — one of the most iconic Samoan Christian traditions will be celebrated this year as usual — on the second Sunday of October, Oct. 11. The following day, Monday Oct. 12th is also celebrated as a local and federal holiday (Columbus Day, also referred to as Discovers’ Day and in some places Indigenous People’s Day), all adding up to a three-day weekend.

Introduced in the Samoan islands by Christian missionaries in the 1800s. White Sunday celebrates our children by cherishing them as one of God’s most precious gift to us. A special church service with prayers, hymns and skits dedicated to children, in new church outfits, that  is followed with a family toana’i that offers their favorite foods and desserts on the table, during which they are served ‘first’’.

“Adorning our children in white clothing and teaching them scriptures to recite and to act out in special White Sunday ceremonies rekindles God’s special love for children and to remind us of our responsibilities to take care of God’s precious gifts to us,” said Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his annual and last White Sunday message as the government’s chief executive.

“Today’s challenges have given way to the rising menacing social issues such as teen suicides, substance and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, educational illiteracy, school bullying, child neglect that are adversely affecting our children,” Lolo pointed out.

“On this White Sunday, let us recommit ourselves to the proposition that stable and well-rounded children are the product of embracive love that is continually and un-obstructively demonstrated throughout the child’s life and time investment ensuring uninterrupted physical presence to mentor and to guide our children along the right path towards fulfillment of God’s plans for them,” he said.

The governor called on everyone to remember those children of the world, who are, among other things, being abused and malnourished, facing hopelessness and despair caused by manmade and natural disasters and political conflicts.

Shopping for the children’s White Sunday outfits kept traffic Friday and Saturday very busy. Grocery stores weree packed with crowds of shoppers looking for those special treats for the White Sunday feast.

The governor has already declared Monday, a holiday in American Samoa and all ASG offices are closed. A majority of local businesses will also close including the banks and StarKist Samoa cannery. One exception is the annual Nei’ls Ace Customer Appreciation Sale — their biggest of the year. It’s on Monday from 7:30 a.m until 2p.m.

In honor of White Sunday and the Monday holiday Samoa News will not publish on Monday but will return Tuesday.

And to all of us, may we each say a prayer of love on this White Sunday for those who chose to leave this world, because they believed they had no choices, no paths to the grace of the Lord.  May His faith, embrace us and keep us safe during this “Lotu Tamaiti” American Samoa.