Christmas spirit shining brightly in villages
While Christmas light displays are being hung in Apia as it hums with activity in the run-up to Christmas, the country’s villages are also preparing for a time of festivity and celebration in traditional ways.
Rising early in the morning is not unusual for Samoan women in villages. At Solosolo at 9am on Saturday, the Samoa Observer attended a year-end ceremony at the local Congregational Christian Church in Samoa (C.C.C.S.).
Like most women across Samoa, the women of Solosolo visit each other’s homes as part of an “asiasiga” or a check in on their well-being.
In Solosolo these are conducted quarterly. Saturday was the final occasion for the year.
From the front of houses, decorated with floral arrangements, to the fa’ase’e ( back living space) and the lavatories inside or outside the home, no family is left out.
Women all over Samoa enjoy an inclusive way of showing regard and respect for villages’ members, be they the “ faletua”, (the reverend’s wife), the “tausi”, (the matai’s wife) or the aualuma, the daughters and in-laws of the village.
To mark their final asiasiga the Mafutaga a Tina (women’s committee) of the church at Solosolo decided that distributing pot plants and wearing a uniform would be central to the occasion.
Dressed in floral red, the ladies gathered around the church building with their pot plants. Laughter abounded as those gathered made jokes about photographs; an atmosphere of happiness settled in.
A 79-year-old, Maeu Timu Siaki, who has nine children, said that she was thankful that they were able to celebrate the end of the year on a high note.
She also said she was proud of the village, which had been working all year to ensure that the children, the youth and men are supported and recalled her late daughter, whom she lost at a young age, as bittersweet tears ran down her face.
Tali Timu Lima, a 64-year-old, wished everyone in the nation a Merry Christmas on behalf of the committee, their Reverend Sepi Gafa and ‘faaao o le mafutaga’, (leader and patron) his wife, Meafou Sepi Gafa.
Reflecting on the year, she acknowledged all the children of Samoa living overseas, saying that their prayers are with them in this time of hardship amid the global pandemic.
Saui'a Dr. Louise Mataia-Milo, a senior lecturer at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.), resides in the village with her husband, a matai of Solosolo.
She says that she has learned a lot from the older women of the committee and admires their knowledge but also the efficiency they show in coordinating and ensuring the well being of the village with finesse and wisdom.
The celebrations for the mafutaga ended with a breakfast prepared by the younger women and a display of traditional dancing.