Culture and country
Did you know?
The Independent State of Samoa is an island country located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Hawaii. Samoa has an area of 2,820 km2 distributed mainly on two Upolu islands, Savai’i plus seven smaller islands and whose capital is Apia. Apia is located on the north central coast of Upolu, the second largest island in Samoa, 40 km east of the international airport.
The capital Apia has around 38,000 inhabitants, and while it may seem like a small city, it has a good number of clubs, markets, shops, theaters and other cultural attractions. This charming colonial-style city is the center of business, government and shopping. In addition, it is an excellent place to explore or settle in while discovering Samoa.
Samoa has two official languages, Samoan and English. Its currency is Tala and the majority religion is Christianity, reaching almost 98% of the population.
In Samoa, tropical vegetation has been almost 85% replaced by timber plantations that are largely exported, basically teak and mahogany. The national flower is red ginger or teuila.
Kava o ‘Ava
The ceremony ‘Ava is one of the most important and important customs of Samoa.
There is a lot of culture that surrounds the Ava drink (formerly Kava), it follows a hierarchical system with several involved movements that are carried out mainly in cultural and religious events. With small variations, this ritual follows the same ritual pattern of yesteryear, although with time they have been introducing slight variations according to the occasion they celebrate.
The Samoan Ava is a root that is grown on the island and when mixed with water it becomes a fermented drink called Ava. This root can take up to 5 years to mature before it can be used for the drink that is made with the dried roots of the Piper methysticum plant. The container in which it is mixed is a huge bowl made of hard-worked wood. For its final use, it is necessary to sand the wood and scrub it with a coconut shell.
The Tufuga fau fale was the name of the old guild of construction professionals who were involved in the creation of a fale, since the Samoan architects were also the ones who built the houses, so the same word Fale means house builder. The Fales are a kind of simple straw huts, without walls and with some support posts. It usually has a round shape and serves as a meeting place for the main council, family reunions, funerals or endowments of major titles. Currently, the Fale form has become rectangular, although in its essence they still have the same function.
Nowadays they are a tourist attraction more and for that reason the most common are the beach Fales that also abound other parts of the Polynesia. Although they are economic constructions and of very basic structure, the views are incomparable.
The traditional culture of Samoa is largely based on the community and most of the activities are carried out in community and giving vital importance to faith, family and folklore. Elders have the highest status in society and are the most respected within their hierarchy, but the family (aiga) in general are a vital part of the life of the Samoans.
In the Polynesian country, males who choose to manifest themselves with feminine features since childhood receive almost no social pressure and occupy an important role in their community, they even have their own contests of beauty and are known as the third sex.
This figure is fully accepted in Samoan society and its millenary existence is based on the maxim that beyond sex, all humans have an equally important role. The origin of this “third sex” was not always optional, some families with all their sons impelled one of them to adopt a female role.
Currently, the Fa’Afafine are people who in most cases are born men but who freely choose to act as a woman, and in their culture are accepted as such in a completely natural way. In addition, they have a special recognition for their dedication to social, charitable service, care for the elderly and children.
Tattoos are a traditional form of art that embraces both cultural and spiritual heritage, and that is sometimes a rite of passage for young people as a mark of personal, spiritual maturity and commitment to the Samoan way of life.
The tattoo process is a ritual and can last several weeks. These tattoos are not only masculine, although there are still few women who get tattoos. Tattoos are true works of art and have a different and cultural meaning.
Each island has a characteristic design and represents a mark of status, honor or power. Each island in Polynesia has a style, so Samoan designs can only be used by Samoans; that formerly served to identify the origin of the visitor.
The Samoan design is geometric and curved. Each of its sections has a meaning according to the person who carries it, its origin, its culture and value. Formerly the tattoos were slow and painful, so who showed him showed great courage. Because of their size, they began to tattoo since puberty.
Haka – Samoa Siva Tau
Watching a Samoan dance show is almost mandatory. Although it may not seem like it, their style and movements are very different from the Pacific Polynesian dances. The Samoans have fun and take pride in sharing their traditional culture with visitors.
In these islands they are recognized among other things for their role in the rugby championships. Despite being a small country, his exploits in rugby are more than known worldwide. This sport was introduced in Samoa by the Marist Brothers around 1920.
The selection known in the rugby world as Manu Samoa. This name comes from a Samoan warrior named Manusamoa Isamaeli and his famous warrior dance or Haka called Siva. This traditional dance has become common in rugby matches.
It is a welcome dance but at the beginning of the rugby matches used to intimidate the opposing team. The HAKA consists of a mixture of rhythmic movements and chants that are performed in unison that combine heavy footsteps on the floor, facial gestures, and arm movements that together form a very unique choreography.
The dance of fire is a relatively recent Polynesian tradition, which originated from the hand of a Samoan dancer in the mid-twentieth century. It is interpreted with knives (Ailao) whose edges are wrapped in rags soaked with a flammable liquid that give an impressive visual beauty to visitors.
However, for centuries the fire has had a special meaning for the Polynesians in general, and the Samoans in particular.
In some ancestral rites they already used fire before the battle to show their enemies their combat prowess.
It is usually reserved for the end of many Samoan celebrations. Historically, this sacred dance was intended for the virgin sons / daughters of the village chief. Currently most are young single artists.
The dance is a solo dance and only accompanied by the rhythmic sound of a drum. The costumes are very colorful and elaborate. According to tradition they must be sewn by hand and with meticulous care in every detail. They usually include bands, coconut shells, feathers and wild boar tusks.
Samoans have fish, chicken and pork, lettuce and cabbage as staples. In addition, they use coconut a lot. During the day, they consume large amounts of tea but only have a main meal at night.
The basic dishes are prepared based on fish, pork and chicken, fruit, bread, coconut cream and bananas. Among the most typical are some such as the palusami, based on vegetables, coconut milk and taro leaves; fa’ausi, typical dessert of coconut bread with caramel candy; and the suafai, banana soup that they eat as a dessert.
Typical drinks are prepared based on fruit juice.