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Merry Christmas American Samoa!

The youth members from the CCCAS Nu’uuli church performing during the final night of the Arts Council’s and Department Of Youth and Women’s Affairs Christmas Concert held at the Pavillion in Fagatogo this past Tuesday evening. [photo: TG]
Please remember to NOT drink & drive — have a safe holiday

A peaceful American Samoa joins Christians around the world on Sunday to celebrate Christmas 2016 and local residents are hoping for good weather after two consecutive days of heavy rain that has made driving hazardous in many areas due to road conditions — usually flooding out during heavy rain.

Yesterday was Christmas Eve in some parts of the world including Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Samoa was first to welcome Christmas in the world; and will also be the first to welcome New Year 2017.

Christmas is a special day for Christians, and especially locally — where church congregations are intricately woven into the fine mat of the Samoan culture. It is a day of giving thanks for the many blessings each and everyone in American Samoa has received this year.

“Let this Christmas be the opportunity for all of us to provide hope to others in what we do; practice renewal by committing to becoming a better person; engage in restoration by reaching out to long lost family members and friends; put into practice the art of humility and modesty; and become the fountain of benevolence and generosity not just for Christmas but for the rest of your lives,” said Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his annual Christmas message.

He also called on everyone to “remember our men and women in uniform stationed in distant lands continuing to provide the ‘Blanket Of Freedom’ we have often taken for granted.”

This time of the year, many will spend Christmas with their families and friends, after church services tomorrow night as well as more church services on Christmas Day, because it also falls on a Sunday.

A check with the Manu’a Island group reveals that not much is happening there except for church services and other Christmas programs with many residents now on Tutuila for the holidays.

Traffic is expected to be busier today with last minute shopping, with back ups sure to occur — on both east and west side  — and especially around the Laufou Shopping Center.

Yesterday in the town area, it was slow moving traffic, as the first Chinese cruise ship, ‘Costa Atlantica’, to visit the territory, called into the Port of Pago Pago at 8 a.m. with more than 3,000 passengers and crew members — it departed at 6 p.m. Vendors will be set up at the Fagatogo Malae, as well as the Fagatogo Market Place, while Samoan cultural performances were held at the Fagatogo Pavilion.

And causing more traffic problems, including people traffic at the local banks, is that the ASG payroll was released, because Monday is a holiday.

Many shops in the territory have stayed open longer hours since late last week and will continue to stay open later than usual on Christmas Eve. Samoa News understands that at least two retailers — in the Nu’uuli area — plan to open Christmas morning for any last minute shopping.

Grocery stores are reporting that they are prepared for the Christmas rush — and along with shops, they are banking on Christmas shopping to increase revenues. At least one store that usually opens Sundays selling cooked food, plans to open Christmas Day and will offer an additional variety of Samoan food — including palusami and more fasi povi masima (salt beef).

Restaurants and other eateries are offering all sorts of dining specials all the way up to tomorrow evening for those people who want to dine out and enjoy a cozy holiday atmosphere.

Gov Lolo has already declared Monday, Dec. 26 as the day to observe Christmas Day and a government holiday. Therefore all government offices will be closed on these designated holidays and ASG employees working on these days will be compensated according to applicable laws and regulations.

The District Court will also be closed on Monday and anyone taken into custody tonight and throughout the three-day Christmas weekend, will spend the Christmas weekend behind bars, until the court opens for business next week Tuesday.

The majority of the territory’s businesses — including the three banks - will also be closed Dec. 26, while StarKist Samoa is currently on a three-week shutdown and resumes production Jan. 9, 2017.

With the holidays in full swing, the government’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board reminds vendors, bars and restaurants that when selling or serving alcohol they must abide by the rules and regulations. Local law states that beer taverns and alcoholic beverage licensees may sell or serve beer or alcoholic beverages from 8:00 a.m. through 2:00 a.m. the following morning. Stores are allowed up to 10:00 p.m. to sell alcohol and beer. Alcohol is prohibited from being sold on Sundays at stores.

Police launched on Monday morning its annual holiday enforcement program, beefing up road patrols, conducting roadblocks at unannounced locations and checking on taverns and stores selling beer and alcohol. This includes monitoring the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.

In observance of Christmas Day 2016, Samoa News will not publish on Monday, but will return Tuesday, Dec. 27.

From all of us at Samoa News: “We wish the people of American Samoa and our Toa o Samoa, Merry Christmas.