Friday, December 15, 2006

Putting the "Christ" in Christmas

I know many back in the states are concerned over the apparent rollback of Christmas - from the fights over Christmas trees in the public square to the switch from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays. While both sides have valid points, anyone who is overly concerned about the disappearance of Christmas should move to American Samoa. The concept of separation of Church and State has not really taken hold in the territory. Most public events start with prayers. At times it can be somewhat refreshing - realizing that a thick line between the two is not always necessary - but at times it still catches me off guard. The 2006 American Samoa Government Territorial Christmas Program is a prime example.

The Christmas Program is held over three nights and is comprised of Christmas songs and hymns (in Samoan) performed by government employees. Almost every government department performs. My Christmas miracle is that the judiciary does not perform. In the weeks before the program (starting around mid-November) government departments start practicing. The best part is that they practice during the workday, everyday. It is hard to get a hold of a department in the afternoon, many places basically shut down after lunch. Except for the palagis, practice is basically mandatory.
Don't get me wrong, the music is great. I went to the show on Day Two - the rain kept many people away, but it is broadcast live on the public access channel, and it is repeated over and over again.
The Coral Reef Conversation Group - they had some great dance moves. Department of Commerce - a bunch of my friends were in this group.
Even the turtle showed up - It is the year of the Sea Turtle
Sharon, Ryan, Paul, "New Aussie Guy" and Meredith post performance. They really liked their outfits.

Samoans know how to sing - they start at a young age in the church choirs - but it is just different for me to have government employees required to perform in a Christmas (not even Holiday) Program. I think the Governor's invitation sums up my point the best:

"Every year I look forward to the magnificent talent of our government workforce being displayed at the annual Territorial Christmas Program and I am sure this year, again, that all our special choirs will offer a colorful presentation of songs to celebrate the Birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ, I wish you all the gift of faith and the peace of God's love at Christmas."

Amen to that.

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