Citizens of Samoa are getting one last gift for the 2011 holiday season: a paid day off and a four day work week. The country is jumping to the other side of the international date line, effectively skipping Friday and going to straight to Saturday. When Samoans went to bed it was still Thursday, December 29, but effective 12:01 am the next day the official date was switched to December 31. Friday just disappears.
The official reason for the jump across the time line is to increase Samoan trade with China, Australia and New Zealand. From The New Yorks Times story:
“In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we’re losing out on two working days a week,” Mr. Tuila’epa said. “While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand, and when we’re at church on Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.”
“Today,” the statement said bluntly, “we do a lot more business with New Zealand and Australia, China and Pacific Rim countries such as Singapore.”
And this line of reasoning is great for businesses in Samoa, but for everyday citizens there would be added bonuses. The last work week of 2011 was cut an extra day short, but the Samoan government have decided that anyone who misses that day of work will be paid anyway. The move will also put Samoa ahead of the country of Tonga as the first country to celebrate 2012.
In an effort to spin the time change for possible tourists, in the Guardian the Samoan prime minister argued for people to jump the timeline with them and celebrate birthdays or anniversaries twice. "You can have two birthdays, two weddings and two wedding anniversaries on the same date – on separate days – in less than an hour's flight across [the ocean], without leaving the Samoan chain." American Samoa, which is less than 100 miles away, is staying on the Western side of the time line.