The country that's going to bed tonight and waking up on Saturday

The shift to a new time zone means that Samoans will never see Friday, 30 December – and they're not happy about it

Businesses are grumbling about losing a day's takings while having to pay staff a full week's wages, and the 775 Samoans born on 30 December are understandably miffed. Such are the logistical problems facing the South Pacific nation as it prepares to hop over the International Dateline by pretending tomorrow does not exist.

Earlier this year, Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, decided that, so as to fall into step with its main trading partners, Australia and New Zealand, the country should swap timezones, becoming the first place where the sun rises, rather than the last. In order to do that, it had to skip a whole day, which Mr Tuilaepa decreed should be 30 December 2011.

Many Samoans were unhappy about the move, accusing him of failing to consider the practicalities involved. Samoa's Seventh Day Adventists have threatened to boycott the cancellation of Friday. "God won't accept that we simply erase a day out of the calendar," wrote one Adventist, Noeline Cutts, in the Samoa Observer. Until 1892, the island nation lay west of the dateline; it shifted east in order to trade more easily with California.

In the past century, its focus has switched to Australia and New Zealand, where many expatriate Samoans live – hence the decision to vault back over.

But the commercial argument does not wash with tourism operators, who say Samoa will lose its unique selling-point as the last place on earth to see the sun set. Some cartographers, meanwhile, believe that since the dateline is an international divider, countries should not be able to decide unilaterally where they sit in relation to it.

Samoans born on 30 December are having to celebrate their birthday a day early or late this year. The same choice faces the 43 couples whose wedding anniversary falls tomorrow.

The scrapping of Friday is problematic for Seventh Day Adventists, who celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. "We will continue to worship on the seventh day of the week," insisted Ms Cutts, raising the prospect of the Adventist Sabbath switching to Sunday, in Samoa at least.

The timezone move has had international repercussions, with the tiny New Zealand territory of Tokelau, which lies just north of Samoa, obliged to follow it west. Tokelau, which has no airport, considers Samoa its gateway to the outside world.

It all seemed rather less complicated 120 years ago, when Samoa crossed the dateline by having two 4 Julys. The Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson was living there at the time with his family. His mother, Margaret, wrote: "We are ordered to keep two Mondays in this week."

The editor of the Samoa Observer, Keni Lesa, told Australian Associated Press that many locals regarded the latest move as "another idea from our crazy prime minister". However, Mr Tuilaepa – who has previously ordered Samoans to drive on the left rather than the right – is unmoved. His critics, he declares, are "stupid idiots".

The lost day: For and against

Groups happy with the change:

* It will be easier to do business with Australia and New Zealand. The previous time difference meant Samoa had only four working days a week that coincided with the region's largest economies.

 

* Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi believes the shift will create "exciting tourism opportunities". "You can have two birthdays, two weddings and two wedding anniversaries on the same date, on separate days, in less than an hour's flight," he said.

* Expatriate Samoans in Australia and New Zealand will find it easier to keep in touch with their friends and relatives back home.

Those unhappy with the change:

 

* Tourism operators say Samoa will lose its unique selling-point as the last place on Earth to see the sun set.

 

* Seventh Day Adventists argue that God will not be happy with the removal of an entire day from the calendar.

Jenny Stevens

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Assessor

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Sustainability Assessor...

Science Teacher

£110 - £150 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: This sch...

English Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: English teacher wanted in a school in R...

Year 5 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?