Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


November 4, 2010

We (as in Americans) just don’t know how to celebrate! As least that’s what I think after today. In a coming blog I’ll tell you about the mats the women weave and the laborious process it is, but now I want to tell you about a celebration we went to today that involved the giving away of 60 mats. They were all made by women in our small village.

It was held this afternoon in the Community Hall. Several relatives came this week from the States to visit. Those families have been feasting all week. Today, though, women brought the mats they had been making to the Hall, and they will be taken back to the States in return for large bags with perfume and other gifts, as well as food.

As we entered the Hall the music was at full volume and many women were dancing (lakalaka). The joy and excitement filled every nook and cranny. After a while a group of women came in holding their mats for all to see, and they danced around the hall. They put them in a pile at the front, and then another group would come in. Several different groups did this, and the bags were handed out. Their pride in their workmanship, the music, and dancing…. When all had been shown and the bags given, everyone that wanted to could dance (Everything from polkas to the hokey pokey was played at full blast.), children included. Then our host mother came and got me and Jim and escorted us to the front to be at the head table for the feast. This was way beyond Thanksgiving. Hardly room for plates on the 16’ table. There were fruits, vegetables, fish, roast pork, chicken, root crops, etc. It was kai mata—eat ‘til you die. (Nothing will be wasted. Leftovers were distributed to families after it was over.) This was an event that I will remember for the rest of my life, especially the joy!

Showing off their hard work.               

                                                                 Our host mother loves to dance!

                                                   What a spread!

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