Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Firsts #18 : Where in the World?

Where in the world will FIRST  experience Christmas Day? Because of the time zones and daylight saving , the first places will be  Samoa,  Tonga and Kiritimati (Christmas Island) . They  are the first places to welcome Christmas. New Zealand and Australia see in Christmas Day soon after, while American Samoa and Baker Island in the United States of America are among the last. These statistics are more often quoted in relation to New Year's Eve, but I think it seems appropriate that Christmas Island is one of the first to celebrate Christmas in the world. 
Kiritimati,  or Christmas Island, is a Pacific Ocean raised coral atoll in the northern Line Islands. It is part of the Republic of Kiribati. The name "Kiritimati" is a respelling of the English word "Christmas" in the Kiribati language  The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world.  25 December is of course  during summer in Kiritimati   Christmas is celebrated in much the same way as in other southern hemisphere countries in the heat  with Christmas lights  church services,  carols by candlelight and many end of year parties with guest appearances from Santa.
The other pacific island states of Samoa and Tonga are also in the same time zone and celebrate Christmas in a similar, but perhaps in a  more "laid back" and much less commercial fashion. Christmas in Samoa is all about 'family", getting together and reflecting on the previous year.
 “The Christmas season is all about family. Wherever we may be throughout the year, we all make it a point to be together on Christmas time,” said Finauapai Siatuolo. 
 It would seem that Christmas celebrations in Samoa and Tonga, emphasise the spiritual and contemplative spirit of the festive season. 
“I would describe Christmas in Tonga as very spiritual and singing mostly,” said Tangikimoana Atiga, from Fou”i, Tonga. “All of the churches get together and sing all day and night.”

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