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Samoa – Understanding the Importance of Christianity When Visiting the Islands

Christian missionaries began arriving in the Samoan islands as early as the 1700’s, long before any other country had recognized Samoa for its trade and strategic possibilities.

Prior to Christianity the Samoan practiced a religion that involved ancestor worship as well as the worship of a variety of gods. Nafanua, the goddess of war had predicted that a day would come when a new religion would destroy the old Gods, and as a result of this prophecy the first missionaries to arrive on the island found some very easy converts.

Today, religion is an integral part of Samoan life, so much so that it is incorporated in their nations motto, Samoa is founded on God.

The islands are dotted with many different churches, and families are quite competitive when it comes to supporting their local pastors and other religious leaders. The Samoan people are very generous when it comes to their love of God, so much so that you will notice the churches and homes of the church leaders are invariably the most impressive structures you will see in the islands.

Though things are changing Sunday is still a quiet day in the islands and you will often see islanders heading to church in their Sunday best, sometimes dressed all in white on special days. Attending a church service in Samoa is a must for tourists visiting the islands who want to get a real insight into the culture of the Samoan people.

The main religions in Samoa are Congregational, Catholic, Methodist, Assembly of God, Seven Day Adventist, Bahai, the Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witness.

Daily prayer time is practised in all villages and is called for by the sound of bells or horns. AT this time the village matai’s (chiefs) surround the village to ensure this time is respected by passers by, commanding respect and reverence for the practice of prayer. If passing through or visiting a village at this time you must show your respect by not entering the village but sitting quietly outside until the prayers are finished.

The customs and traditions of the Samoan people is in large part the reason a visit to this idyllic place is so desirable. Unlike may other pacific islands, Samoa still has an incredibly strong connection to its ancient culture, and as such it is important to have respect for the customs of the Samoan people if you are to enjoy your visit and ensure the continued welcome of western travelers.
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Fri, January 8 2010 » Travel And Leisure

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