Today in History: 30 December 2011 Samoa Loses a Day and Jumps Forward in Time

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On this day in 2011 Samoa skipped a day and jumped westwards across the international dateline – to align with trade partners.

As the clock struck midnight (10:00 GMT Friday) as 29 December ended, Samoa fast-forwarded to 31 December, missing out on 30 December entirely.

Samoa announced the decision in May in a bid to improve ties with major trade partners New Zealand and China.

The change comes 119 years after Samoa moved in the opposite direction. Then, it transferred to the same side of the international date line as the United States, in an effort to aid trade.

But New Zealand and Australia have become increasingly valuable trade partners for the country.

Speaking from Samoa shortly after the change, at midnight local time, journalist Rico Tupai said the town was alive.

“You can hear the sound of a lot of vehicles going round town, going round the town centre clock and tooting their horns. People screaming,” he said.

“We have once again achieved another milestone in our history of Samoa.”

Season’s Greetings from Management and Staff of Ah Liki Wholesale

Samoan Former Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi said he expected to see immediate benefits from the change, particularly for the tourist industry, as Samoans would now have five working days of continuous contact with counterparts in New Zealand and Australia.

“While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand, and when we’re at church on Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane,” the leader of opposition said in the countdown to the switch.

Mr Malielegaoi later said he had just attended a ceremony to signal the change in time zone which was followed by morning tea and coffee for the people who had attended to “applaud the occasion”.

He added that the change would have particular benefits for Samoans needing to travel to New Zealand to attend to family business.

He suggested Pacific tourists could celebrate the same day twice, because American Samoa next door stays on the other side of the dateline.

 

“You can have two birthdays, two weddings and two wedding anniversaries on the same date – on separate days – in less than an hour flight across [the ocean], without leaving the Samoan chain,” Former Prime Minister enthused.

Crossing the international dateline in 2011 meant December 30th babies missed their birthdays and new born babies were born on the 31st instead of the 30th.

The Westpac Samoa Bank now known as the Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) had good news for its customers, too.

“This is a very significant day in the history of Samoa and for some time now we’ve been planning and programming our systems to deal with the event,” said Micheal Mjaskal, it’s general manager at the time.

 

“Customers can be assured that Westpac will not charge interest on credit and loan facilities for the missing day. However, we will pay the appropriate interest on interest bearing deposits for the missing day even though we are not obligated by law.”

Samoa has crossed the international dateline before. in 1892, its then king was persuaded to fall in step with American ships sailing west to San Francisco. That shift gave the Samoan calendar an extra day that meant consecutive fourths of July.