Aaliyah Taumoefolau, a 14-year-old from Australia, is in Samoa for the first time.
She is thrilled to be spending her Christmas here in Samoa. She is half-Tongan, but has never been to Tonga. She’s looking forward to seeing Christmas, island style.
“I heard it’s huge here in Samoa,” she said. “I am really looking forward to experiencing that.”
She was particularly looking forward to the “Manuao” [a cultural practice in which a group have to sing Christmas songs and walk around the whole village past midnight on Christmas].
“I’ve heard a lot of stories about it and I am definitely looking forward to that.”
As for Alexis Iosefo, a 12-year-old from Australia, she has celebrated Christmas in Samoa before, and can’t wait to do it again.
Alexis is from the village of Laulii and will be spending Christmas with her parents.
“Christmas in Samoa is the best thing ever,” she said.
“I love the way they celebrate it…it’s always fun, and you see everyone come together to celebrate. It really is an amazing feeling.
“You know back in Australia, you just have dinner, exchange gifts, and then that’s it, but for Samoa, you see a lot of activities by the villages, churches, companies… and the whole country. And that is why I always look forward to coming to Samoa for the holidays.”
Eddie Tuiavi’i, from Auckland, believed the “proximity of the population” is what makes a Samoan Christmas different from festivities in New Zealand or Australia.
“You get to see a lot of family life in the villages up close here in Samoa during these times,” he said.
He believed the Samoan culture made celebrations here “unique”.
“I love how they have the 13 Days of Christmas here every year; it helps bring out the Christmas spirit.
“As a member of the Seventh Day Adventist, Christmas is not really a stand-out calendar event of the year, but when you come here in Samoa, you see Christmas everywhere, which is very wonderful.
“What I am looking forward to is the family gathering and get-together.”
Eddie was excited to be home, and was thrilled to see a lot of changes and development in Samoa since the last time he visited the country.
“You can definitely feel the vibe of tourists in the air,” he said.
Having said that, he reflected back on when Samoa did not have so many tourists coming in for Christmas.
“When they [tourists] do, you would find them in particular places such as beaches, but now, you see tourists everywhere in Samoa, which says a lot.”
Eddie Tuiavi’i was with his mother Gia Tuiavi’i.
They are from the villages of Apia and Salailua, Savai’i, and they are now staying at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Sogi.
The Samoa Observer also caught up with Syndey Link-Fonoti, visiting Samoa for the first time.
She is from the state of Virginia in the United States of America. Her partner is from American Samoa. Having a taste of “family time” during Christmas was the main reason she wanted to spend her Christmas in Samoa.
She was accompanied by her partner’s cousin, Michael Leota, and his wife Tracy Leota, who are all from the States.
“We are looking forward to spending time with families, food and having a great time learning about the culture and seeing the beautiful friendly people of Samoa.”