Samoan Etiquette – You sit down, too!

by | Tu ma Aganu'u, Le Api | 2 comments

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 also standing, it’s not such a big issue to remain standing while you speak with them, but Samoans generally don’t like to have meaningful (or civil) conversations on their feet. It can seem a little confrontational to all be standing around like that.

A lot of Samoan families these days – especially those of us who don’t live in Samoa – will let some of these rule slide. If you’re new to the Samoan culture, just follow the example of those around you. BUT, if you’re ever unsure how to behave, always default to these Samoan etiquette guidelines.

Our elders will love you for it.


  1. Arthur Bigham

    Yes, you’re right. Also, if you’re walking between or in front of someone, or across a room where people are sitting, you’d better kneel or swoon down a bit and say, “Tulou”!!!

    • Melvin

      @Arthur Brigham Omg. This is similar with the Chuukese in Micronesia! When you pass through a group of people either sitting or standing but ESPECIALLY if they’re sitting, you have to bow down and say Tirow. It would be rude not to.


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