White Sunday

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White Sunday
Observed by Samoa and Tonga and Niue
Date Second Sunday in October
2017 date October 8  (2017-10-08)
2018 date October 14  (2018-10-14)
2019 date October 13  (2019-10-13)
2020 date October 11  (2020-10-11)
Frequency annual

White Sunday is a national holiday in Samoa falling on the second Sunday of October, with the Monday following a public holiday. It is a day for parents and communities to acknowledge and celebrate childhood by hosting special programs during church services which include scriptural recitations, biblical story reenactments, and creative dance performances. Children receive gifts (often new clothing and/or school supplies) on White Sunday and are allowed privileges normally reserved for elders, such as being the first to be served food at family meal time.

On White Sunday, Samoan women and children dress completely in white clothing. Some of them trim the clothes with the other two colors of the Samoan flag, red and blue. Men will wear white shirts with either white slacks or the traditional 'i.e. faitaga form of the lavalava. If a lavalava is worn it need not be white. White Sunday is also celebrated in Tonga.

In the Samoan language the holiday is called "Lotu Tamaiti," literally "Children's Service" or "Prayer for Children."

There are differing opinions in regards to the origin of this holiday. Some believe White Sunday to be a Christian adaptation of an indigenous pre-contact celebration of certain planting and harvesting seasons. Others assert that the holiday coincides with a family celebration that became widespread in the 1920s in commemoration of Samoans who succumbed to the influenza epidemic of 1919; this epidemic, introduced through the ambivalence of the New Zealand colonial administration, took the lives of 1/5 to 1/4 of the Samoan population, many of them children. White Sunday is a time to also get with brothers, sisters and even cousins to recite something together. It is a tradition in all the Protestant churches..

New Zealand hip-hop artist Mareko has released an album named after it.