We have an often quoted saying that translates loosely to: You can recognize a true Samoan by the way he/she behaves.
As with every culture, Samoans have a code of conduct that anyone from a good family should know. Times have changed, of course, so we’re generally more forgiving about some things (like how I don’t get a hiding anymore if I ‘accidentally’ eat while I’m standing)…
But if you’re looking to make a good impression, especially amongst the elders in our community, then all of these guidelines are Good to Know. #thumbsup
This guideline covers a few different situations. First, it’s good manners in any culture to use your initiative to correct things that are not right. For example, are the dishes piling up? Wash them. Is a log blocking somebody’s driveway? Move it. It’s common sense and basic human courtesy. We shouldn’t need to be asked to do things like this. For Samoans, though, verbally offering a service – as good as your intentions might be – can ...Read more
I’ll be the first to admit it. I eat on my feet all the time. Hello, I’m a busy lady. I don’t always have time for a sit down meal, etc. and other excuses like that. Lucky for me, I’m too big now to get a bashing for such horrible manners… but I still try not to be so rude in front of my mom (gotta avoid those evil glares), and I never do it ...Read more
In our culture it’s really rude to have conversations with your elders if you’re standing while they’re seated. If you dare to be so inappropriate like that in a very traditional Samoan household, look out for flying saucers (followed by tea-cups, or spoons, etc.) aimed at your head. To show respect, you try to speak with someone at the same eye level, or better yet, position yourself at a lower angle. If your elders are ...Read more
Our Samoan etiquette series is for people who are new to our culture or just want to brush up on the kind of behavior expected from ‘good’ Samoans. It’s especially helpful if you want to make a good impression on Samoan elders, perhaps the parents of your (hope to be) significant other? I wrote a couple of articles on the topic a while ago: Mind your body parts! Meal Time …and then we got a lot of ...Read more
Samoans seem to be very body-part-conscious. You might call it modest or reserved maybe, but all my training in ‘behaving so my mom, aunts and older cousins don’t give me the evils’ seemed to have a lot to do with how I positioned my body in specific situations. Now that I’m grown, I see the wisdom and the respect behind the Samoan way of carrying oneself. The learning is so instilled in me, it even ...Read more