The people of Tokelau observe Lotu-a-Tamaiti on the second Sunday of October, also called “White Sunday”. The name of the observance in the local language, however, translates as “Children’s Service”. The Monday after Lotu-a-Tamaiti is a public holiday each year.
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Lotu-a-Tamaiti is a time when Tokelau’s children are appreciated. Most go to church, and during the service, children are central. They memorise and recite Bible verses, put on plays, do special dances, and put together various other types of performances. The sermon for the day will also likely be focused on the role God intended for children and their special value in His sight.
It is called White Sunday because men, women, and children traditionally all dress completely in white on this day. It makes for quite a sight at church with the pews full of solid band of white.
Many will take their children out to have fun at some place special for Lotu-a-Tamaiti. They may go to a local park, have a picnic, play at the beach, or find games or sports events kids can take part in.
How did Lotu-a-Tamaiti begin? That is a matter of dispute in Tokelau. Some say it grew out of ancient sowing and harvest traditions of farming communities. But the general view that prevails is that it began as a way to thank God for sparing the lives of their children in the face of deadly European disease.