I am heartbroken to report this year’s Christmas in Samoa will inevitably be dampened by the recent destruction from Cyclone Evan’s onslaught and our prayers for the Samoan people will continue for this normally festive time of year. High winds and flooding have reportedly resulted in homes being flattened, trees uprooted, three reported dead and even more reported missing. Apia, the country’s capital, has seen quite a bit of destruction. Being grateful at this time of year for family and friends’ well-being will obviously be a part of their Christmas Day church service.
Because the majority of the Samoan people are Christian, Christmas is celebrated much the same as it is in the U.S. Samoa formally starts their Christmas celebration with a countdown to Christmas day, “13 Days to Christmas”. This countdown has been interrupted by the devastation of Cyclone Evan. When Christmas day does arrive, as in the U.S., the day is celebrated by attending a church service, which is followed by a feast and gift giving. Gift giving in Samoa is cherished as a way of showing your love to one another and even more important this year for those who have lost everything.
Christmas time is a time for visiting with family and friends, feasting and yes gift giving. This year, however, efforts will be made to replace what has been lost and to be thankful for the lives spared. It is reported that there is a great need for food and clothing to replace what has been lost during the storm. Gift giving has already begun and will be more focused this year on providing relief to those who have lost even the basic necessities.
Music, more specifically Christmas music, is a central theme for Samoans at Christmas. Normally, Christmas music can be heard everywhere you go. With limited to no power the normal sounds of Christmas in Samoa will be deterred. Christmas carols and plays are an integral component of Samoa’s Christmas celebration with choirs coming together to sing songs and children playing a part in the nativity scene. With Samoans trying to rebuild their lives these Christmas traditions will also be hindered. Homes and businesses usually festively decorated with tinsel and colorful balloons much like our American homes decorated festively with colorful lights. However, this Christmas season, some do not have homes to decorate and many businesses have seen their offices or stores damaged or destroyed.
This year these Christmas traditions are clouded by the devastation of Cyclone Evan. Many will be trying to rebuild, some may have lost everything. This year our Christmas prayers go out to the people of Samoa. Initially, families were donating to help provide the children of the shelter with Christmas gifts. This has turned into a disaster relief fund and trying to assist in providing clothing and supplies to those who have lost everything. The Fatherless Foundation is accepting donations at this time to assist in this disaster relief. A cyclone is devastating any time of year, but even more so during the Christmas holidays. While we are grateful that lives were spared we now are focusing on providing stability and needed supplies to the people of Samoa. Bringing normalcy in their time of need will go a long way in helping them during the Christmas holidays.
Our prayers for those who have been affected in Samoa will continue. For information on how to donate please contact Sonja.
Photo Credit: Rachel Nankivell