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With COVID restrictions lifted, Am Samoa looks to a joyous New Year

Manu'a high school students and faculty
2023: A Year of Hope according to Chinese astrology

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa will be welcoming the New Year at the stroke of 12 midnight tonight, Saturday, Dec. 31, ushering in 2023, with hopes of new blessings as the territory fully reopens in borders, and welcomes in cruise ships, after the community spread of COVID-19 this year that claimed the lives of 34 residents.

American Samoa is the last in the U.S “family” to ring in 2023, while Guam is the first U.S possession where it’s already New Year’s Eve as well as in other parts of the world, including our neighbors in Samoa.

Many are hoping for good weather following unstable weather conditions this week where at times it rained heavily. As of yesterday morning, the National Weather Service office in Tafuna is forecasting that Saturday night — New Year’s Eve through next week Wednesday — is expected to be cloudy with numerous showers and north winds 5 to 15mph.

(Update on weather is online at: — or the National Weather Service of Pago Pago Facebook page.)

Church services and parties usually top the list of activities in the territory for New Year’s Eve celebrations. And with no more COVID-19 emergency declarations, thereby lifting all local restrictions, this year’s celebrations are expected to be in high gear.

But be forewarned that police are continuing their holiday enforcement and bar owners are reminded by ASG officials of local laws that night clubs are to be closed at 2a.m. Police are expected to enforce closing time promptly.

A big concern for many residents — as in past years — is the “booming” sound of homemade Samoan cannons — “fagaofe” — which were heard across the territory even before Christmas Eve.  Some residents reported to Samoa News the sound of fagaofe and fireworks started the week before Christmas, although these are illegal — along with fireworks —  in the territory. Some residents have reported such incidents to police.

Another long standing tradition, “Po o Moli” or  “Night of Lights” — a lavish tradition of the Methodist church on New Year’s Eve — is expected to be celebrated, with decorations at churches usually completed by 6p.m on Saturday prior to the start of church services.

Night of Lights involves different families and church groups making trees, about 10- 15 ft high, and decorating the ‘trees’ with candy or flower ulas, fabric, food items such as chips, cookies, canned goods and boxes of saimin; and of course, cash. At the end of the service, which traditionally has been held after midnight, on New Year’s Day, decorations from the trees are presented first to church and village leaders, the elders, invited guests and finally, church members.

For those who follow Chinese astrology — 2023 is a year of the Water Rabbit — and starts from Jan. 22, 2023 and ends on Feb. 09, 2024, according to the website, which also says that the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. “2023 is predicted to be a year of hope,” it says.

And it’s a three-day holiday weekend, with Monday, Jan. 02, 2023 already declared by the governor as a holiday in the territory, as New Year’s Day, Jan. 01, 2023 falls on a Sunday.

And all government offices are closed on Monday including the majority of local businesses. DPS reminds the public to celebrate responsibly, as they will be out in full force to ensure a safe and happy New Year.

StarKist Samoa officials remind cannery workers that production resumes on Jan. 03 — next week Tuesday.

Samoa News management and staff wish the people of American Samoa, especially our Toa o Samoa, a safe and prosperous 2023. We ask everyone to please stay healthy and to be kind to one another. Take care.

REMEMBER: Call a taxi, call a friend, call your mother, call your mistress or call your ‘daddy’ —  JUST DON’T DRINK & DRIVE, AND BUCKLE UP!