The South Pacific island of Samoa travelled through time last night as it wound its clocks forward a full 24 hours at the stroke of midnight, thereby skipping Friday 30th December 2011 completely.
There were celebrations around the main clock tower in the capital, Apia, as the time was changed. Fireworks lit up the sky and sirens blared while Samoans held prayers and rejoiced at the dumping of a day.
The decision was not, as you would imagine, fuelled by Samoans’ desire to head straight first into New Year’s Eve boozing, but to catch up with their closest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand.
For over 119 years Samoa’s time has been aligned with that of old US Samoa, originally meant to assist in their trading with California. But times have changed, and now Samoa’s biggest trading allies are next door in Oz and NZ.
The time shift will also be a welcome change for the 90% of Samoa’s population that emigrates to Australia and New Zealand, meaning they can celebrate special occasions at the same time as friends and family back home.
Samoan officials have now begun work on changing maps, charts and atlases to reflect Samoa’s new date line position. A stamp, featuring the phrase “into the future,” has also been created to mark the switch as (we guess) the far superior “back to the future” had already been snapped up.
By Rebecca Jones