Samoans went to sleep last night on Thursday, 29 December, the 5th day of Christmas. But they woke up this morning on Saturday, 31 December, the 7th day of Christmas.
In 1892 they switched to be on the American side of the date line as they did most of their trading with the US and Europe. Now the focus of trade is with Australia and NZ and so it makes sense to be in synch with the working week here and they decided to switch back. The suggestion came from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi, who also, in 2009, successfully steered the change from driving on the right hand side of the road to driving on the left.
Samoa is one hour ahead of NZ. It used to be a day behind. I regularly make much of the round of the world’s liturgical celebrations starting in NZ. I suspect I will continue to do so – but niggling in the back of my head, and in an imagined footnote when I do so, is the realisation that Christians in Samoa will now have an hour’s head start on us.
ps. In all the many changes to the calendar system over the centuries the 7 day week sequence has been unbroken for millennia. I can imagine in some places, if the date was moved in this manner, the insistence that worship now move from Sunday to “Monday” (or Saturday to “Sunday”). [Update: see Vincent’s comment below that there is now a division in SDAs – those who have followed the 7 day sequence, and those who have stuck to the day named of the week].
pps. In Samoa, employers will have to pay employees for the 30th as if it had existed!
ppps. Tokelau – three atolls and home to 1200 New Zealanders north of Samoa – has also jumped across the Dateline because its administrative headquarters is in Apia.
pppps. The prime minister is now working on his next scheme – dumping Samoa’s colonial era flag that was a “gift” from New Zealand.
ppppps. Falealupo in Samoa used to be the last village on earth to see the end of a day, now that honour will go to Palagi Beach (palagi is Samoan for pakeha) at the western end of Tutuila in American Samoa.