Samoa calendar change: Samoans lose 24 hours as island moves over international dateline
Today is the day that Samoans will never see.
The tiny South Pacific island is moving west over the international dateline, and its citizens will lose a day of their lives as they jump 24 hours ahead.
When the clock struck midnight on Thursday, the calendar flipped over to Saturday, switching from the same time zone as the U.S. to that of Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Samoans gathered around a clock tower in the capital of Apia for the historic moment, applauding as fireworks exploded in celebration.
Drivers circled the clock tower blaring their horns, and prayer services were held across the country.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told Radio New Zealand that the drastic move would lead to major improvements in trade and tourism.
‘No longer shall we have people ringing us up from New Zealand and Australia thinking it is Monday when we are closing our eyes and praying at churches,’ he said.
‘And vice versa on our Fridays when we ring up and already our contacts are holidaying on their Saturdays.’
Samoa’s population of 180,000 will now be one of the first in the world to welcome in the New Year, rather than the last.
Critics say Samoa could lose tourist trade by no longer being the last place on earth to see the sun set - but it will now be one of the first places to see in each new day.
The nation’s seventh Day Adventists are also divided over the change, and whether they should now observe the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday.
Officials are working on creating new maps, charts and atlases for the island, as it moves over the zig-zag dateline.
Former New Zealand dependency Tokelau has shifted with Samoa while American Samoa is staying on the other side of the dateline.