Thursday, December 30, 2010

Samoan Weddings and Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve program


The cake

This guys was at the wedding and I almost cried again

the wedding presents

My sister

Yesterday I got to go to my first Samoan Wedding and got a really cool perspective of it the couple getting married are in my young adults bible study at church and my sister and the other girls from the group were the bridesmaids. I have only been with the group a couple times but they are the closest things I have to friends my own age here in Samatau. I woke up to find seven girls in my living room getting their hair and make up done. I promptly wheeled out the little supplies I had and pitched in. It was so fun to see these girls who never put on make up and rarely do more then put their hair in bun, get all gussied up. My new host mother is a seamstress and had made all the bridesmaids gowns, they were maroon with cream sashes. As my sister was busy my usual excort was booked and my little sister was just as uncomfortable and unsure as I was. We headed for the church, which was decked out to the nines, flowers, silk drapes, and lots of traditional Samoan fine mats. The place was packed, probably close to three hundred people were there. I lost my sister and ended up floating with no idea where to sit. I made my was to the front were the choir sits, some of the few people I know. I hadn’t been formally introduced to the village so most people thought I was either some weird visitor or some ones lost family member. I eventually sat in the seats behind the choir but not before sitting down where the groom’s family sits and them being asked to move. It is these moments when I realize, no wonder I’m treated like a child I cant go five minutes on my own with out making a mistake. The ceremony soon got started and my embarrassment was washed away, it happens so often you start to recover quickly. It was a wonderful ceremony and actually very western. The only big difference was that the bridesmaids, grooms men and the actually couple had chairs to sit on during parts of the service. The couple even did the “you may kiss the bride” which is the first time I have ever seen a Samoan couple kiss, ever. P.D.A. is strictly taboo, even holding hands is a no-no, and you usually avoid eye contact with the opposite sex as it can be seen as an invitation. This part did seem to come into play as neither the bride or groom really looked at each other. It was almost as if two strangers were getting married, but I knew from others they had been dating for years and were the villages golden couple. After the wedding my little sister found me and we walked to the reception in the field in front of the school a couple of houses over. There were three huge tents and a gorgeous heart shaped contraption that held maybe ten tiers of wedding cake. The tables had peanuts, chips, apples, oranges, and soda waiting for the guests. These things are not commonplace here and it was a treat to have. There was a lot of speeches and some dancing by the bride and groom but not as a couple, the guests just kind of watched as they hopped around individually and then the older ladies would take turns dancing too and kissing the couple. Then they started taking the tiers of the cake and handing them out to the Matai and important men and some women of the village. I was tucked in the back table with my sister on our own feeling a little vulnerable already as it was Christmas eve, my father’s birthday, and I was in a very awkward situation. Then totally out of the blue the man calls out that a tier of the cake will go to the Peace Corp. I started tearing up immediately. I was being acknowledged and honored in front of the whole village. It was a wonderful moment and I know it went along way to establish my place here. Then to put a cherry on top I wasn’t served a regular meal like everyone else I got the special platter that they give to the chiefs as well. Lets just say there were some more tears hastily swiped away. No one really ate their meal at the wedding it was all packaged up and carried home. So then it was time for a nap before the evening service. The service was great and with my acknowledgement from the wedding I had a lot of smiling faces and hellos. My neighbor girls and I sat in the front and watched the spectacular talents of the Samatau Christian Community Church. They had been practicing all week and had pulled two all-nighters trying to get everything together. There were dances, singing, and skits. It was very entertaining even though I couldn’t understand any of what was being said, and fyi American Best Dance Crew is very popular here and it showed in the young boys dances. It was a wonderful evening and when the show was over instead of heading straight out as I usually did I went on to the stage to with the performers well as many other were. I knew a lot of them from the bible and then some form the wedding. It was the first time that I had people to seek out and others were seeking me out. There was Merry Christmases and kisses exchanged all round. It seemed that anyone who walked by me wanted to kiss me and tell me welcome. I know I will look back and think that was the day I started to be accepted, it was very cool and I think with time I will see it was the best Christmas present I could have gotten.

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