Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day in Samoa

Mother’s Day, a highly celebrated holiday here in Samoa. So much that everyone gets the following Monday off from school. For me, the forecast for this day started a week before. It all started when I was at the monthly meeting of Mother’s in the church congregation. No I am not a mother but this is just one of the many odd things I do to integrate myself into the community. Anyways, I was sitting in the meeting with all the elderly women of the church. They all talk while I pretend like I’m listening and understand what is going on. Finally the faletua, (Pastor’s wife), also the president of the committee looked over at me and told me that the group was going to be performing a dance during church next Sunday for Mother’s Day. She said that I too would perform the dance. Well you don’t argue with the faletua because then you would for sure be displeasing god, so I put on a smile and nodded my head complying with her. We were to have dance practice a few times that week prior to church on Sunday. I spent the next few days worrying myself about this dance. I knew that during that dance I would be the one everyone was staring at, even though there were going to be 12 other women up there. I called my host mother the night before the first dance practice to ask her what time I needed to be there. She said that I didn’t need to go because I was not  a mother. “Obviously I’m not a mother,” I thought to myself. I sighed with relief and was jumping up and down on the inside, but managed to keep cool while still on the phone with my host mom. Before we hung up she said that she wanted me to come over for measurements because she was making me a puletasi for Mother’s Day. Pulatasi’s are the standard wardrobe for women to wear. You wear them to church, work, any kind of professional/respectful place.  The next day I went over there to give her my measurements. She was making me an all white puletasi. White puletasi’s are always worn to church. No matter the congregation. Methodists, Catholics, EFKS, they all wear white. The women also wear these big white hats as well. They remind me of the hats women used to wear (or maybe still do) to the derby.  During the week I decided to get my host mother a gift for mother’s day. I went into Apia on Friday, and I was shocked at what I saw.  The main strip of Apia was packed with tents where people were selling all sorts of things. Kind of like a flea market. All the tents had everything from pulatasi’s to jewelry to plants.  I was relieved because I knew these new tents were going to make shopping for a gift a lot easier than I had expected. I ended up getting a pair of yellow flower earrings and a matching ……. Saturday night I got a call from my host mother saying that I needed to come over before church so I could try on my puletasi to see if it fit. Why I was trying it on a half hour before church was besides me. Its not like any major adjustments would have been able to be made if they needed to be. Nevertheless I did what I was told.  Luckily the new church appropriate, all white puletasi turned out great, and no adjustments were made. The Mother’s Day church service ran an extra hour and a half later than normal. The women’s committee read passages from the bible instead of only the pastor reading.  At the end of the service all the women from the committee went up to the front of the church. They sang a song, but no dance. I was very confused, and when I asked later why they didn’t do the dance. My host mom said that they never ended up having practices. I can’t say that I was very surprised.  Because one of the many things I’ve learned is that here, things usually do not go according to plan. All in all, a one day holiday turned into a nice three day weekend, and one eventful week.

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