What are the Public Holidays in Samoa?
Want to see how Samoa celebrates special events? Or perhaps you don’t want your getaway to clash with a public holiday when some businesses are closed? Either way, we go through when the public holidays are and why they are celebrated in this guide to the public holidays in Samoa.
Overview: Public Holidays in Samoa
In short, the list of public holidays in Samoa is as follows:
- January 1 – New Year’s Day
- January 2 – Day after New Year’s Day
- Friday before Easter Sunday – Good Friday
- Saturday after Good Friday – Day after Good Friday
- Monday after Easter Sunday – Easter Monday
- Monday after the second Sunday in May – Mother’s Day
- June 1 – Independence Day
- Monday after the second Sunday in August – Father’s Day
- Monday after the second Sunday in October – White Sunday
- December 25 – Christmas
- December 26 – Boxing Day
Note that if any public holiday dates fall on a weekend, the next Monday (and Tuesday in some cases) is observed as a national public holiday too.
Official Public Holidays in Samoa and Why They are Celebrated
Samoa has a range of public holidays in order to commemorate historical, cultural and religious events.
New Year’s Day and Day After New Year’s Day
Samoa celebrates the New Year much like many places around the world, counting down on December 31 until midnight on January 1. One of the biggest events is the fireworks display help in the capital, Apia. What makes celebrating New Year’s in Samoa special, however, is that the country is among the first in the world to reach the New Year thanks to its position closest east to the International Date Line – find out more in What is the Samoa Time Zone?
Note that if New Year’s Day and/or the Day After New Year’s Day falls on a weekend, the holiday will be observed on the next Monday (and Tuesday, if applicable). See how to experience this public holiday for yourself with How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Samoa.
Good Friday, Day After Good Friday and Easter Monday
Easter is a religious holiday, celebrated with gusto in Samoa due to most of the population being Christian. The public holiday (and the days leading up to it) are celebrated with special church services throughout Samoa. Then, locals retreat to their homes where daily activities are restricted to inside the homes.
Dates for Easter Sunday are changeable from year to year and are determined by being the first Sunday after the paschal full moon. Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday, the Day After Good Friday is, well, self-explanatory, and Easter Monday is the Monday after Easter Sunday. Learn more in The Guide to Easter in Samoa.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
What might just be a symbol of appreciation in many Christian countries, in Samoa where family means everything, both Mother’s Day (the Monday after the second Sunday in May) and Father’s Day (Monday after the second Sunday in August) are observed as official public holidays. Both occasions are very much a Christian affair where events take place in churches with each church/denomination celebrating in their own way, whether it’s a feast to feed a whole village or children singing songs for their mothers or fathers, fathers performing skits and songs for their communities, etc.
Of course, family is at the centre of the occasion too, where mothers (or fathers) wear white and are served their favourite food as a family feast where the fathers (or mothers) and children do all of the work.
Despite Samoa gaining independence on January 1 1962 (read up on A Brief History of Samoa), the national public holiday for Samoa’s Independence Day is actually held on June 1 every year in order to avoid a double celebration during the New Year’s holiday. On Independence Day, there are various celebrations across the country, starting at dawn with church bells ringing and continuing with various events across Samoa’s villages.
White Sunday (Lotu-a-Tamaiti)
As mothers and fathers get their day, children get theirs with White Sunday (Lotu-a-Tamaiti), also known as Children’s Day. Occurring on the second Sunday of October (with the public holiday taking place on the following Monday), White Sunday is where Samoa’s children dress up in their best white clothing, attend special church services, and end with a family feast where the kids often get to enjoy their favourite food.
Christmas and Boxing Day
An important Christian holiday, Christmas is celebrated in Samoa on December 25 and Boxing Day on December 26. Christmas is celebrated with church services and then time spent with family; usually with to’ona’i or umu on Boxing Day. Learn more about Christmas in our guide, Samoa Christmas Ideas: How to Spend Christmas in Samoa.
Other Events in Samoa
Public holidays aren’t the only thing to look forward to in Samoa. The island nation also has a lively events calendar. We go into detail in The Top Events & Festivals in Samoa for This Year. Otherwise, here’s a quick overview of the top events.
The first week of September marks the beginning of one of the biggest events in the Samoan calendar, the Teuila Festival. The week-long festival (pronounced Tee-oo-wee-lah) gives communities, villages and churches the opportunity to compete through traditional Samoan song and dance. Arts, crafts, tattooing and lots and lots of food also play an important part in the celebrations. The finale is the crowning of Miss Samoa at the Miss Samoa Pageant, who will get to represent Samoa across the Pacific and the world.
A natural phenomenon that you can almost set your clock by, Palolo Rise is when the palolo reef worm performs its annual ritual of rising from the coral to the water’s surface to spawn. Occurring on the seventh day after the full moon in October or November (or sometimes both depending on when in the month it falls), as the blue-green palolo reef worm rises off Samoa’s shores, locals gather with lanterns on the beaches to scoop this delicacy up! Learn more about how locals celebrate in How to Experience the Palolo Season in Samoa.
See more of the top events in the 5 Biggest Festivals in Samoa.
More About Public Holidays in Samoa
That’s it for our guide to the national public holidays in Samoa. Learn more about important dates and national events in the following guides:
- 5 Biggest Festivals in Samoa
- The Top Events & Festivals in Samoa This Year
- A Traveller’s Guide to the Samoan Culture
Finally, plan more of your Samoa visit using our whopping 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.