Samoan Manners and Etiquettes to Know!
People from different countries do different things that they consider to be polite or courteous. For instance, the kids in Samoa might have manners that are not the same as the manners that were taught to you when you were a kid. Photo Credit: Mareko Tamaleaa
People from different countries do different things that they consider to be polite or courteous. For instance, the kids in Samoa might have manners that are not the same as the manners that were taught to you when you were a kid.
This lesson will introduce you to the practices of the Samoans that show their courtesy and respect towards other people.
Gagana fa’aaloalo - Speaking Polite Words
The Samoans value respect, and it’s important for them to address the members of their family and community with utmost politeness. They casually use the greeting talofa, the shorter version of Si o ta alofa atu, to acknowledge other people. In some instances, this greeting comes with a firm handshake.
When they need to pass by in front of someone, they also say tulou which is equivalent to “excuse me”.
Fa'afetai tele lava = Thank you very much
Manuia le taeao, aso, afiafi, pō = Have a good morning, good day, good evening, and good night
Fa'amolemole = Please
'O ā mai 'oe? = How are you?
Talofa lava = Hello (friendly)
When visiting the houses of their neighbors, the Samoans prefer to take their shoes off before entering. They also have a certain way of sitting down that they consider respectful. Whether they are seated on the floor or on a chair, they always make sure that their feet are not facing another person.
Using the title of the person upon greeting.
It is customary to honor prayer times at 6 PM.
Try every dish offered is a sign of appreciation and respect.
When receiving a gift, it’s customary to bow and place the gift above your head as a sign of thanks.
Let the elders of the family eat first.
Moreover, when talking to people who are older or have higher authority than them, Samoans make it a point to sit or squat beside that person to show respect.
Because of their dominantly-Christian culture, people of Samoa are very conservative when it comes to clothing. For them, wearing modest clothes will give respect not just to other people but for themselves as well. Samoans like to wear the ie lavalava over their pants or shorts.
Males also have the fancier version ie faitaga, which is used for more formal occasions and ceremonies. It is encouraged that both men and women should wear the ie lavalava or the ie faitaga during their church services.
It’s customary to avoid wearing revealing clothing when walking around the villages. Women should also avoid showing their knees and shoulders.
Visiting a house
Did you know it’s common for people to visit their neighbors unannounced and stay long into? Welcoming guests inside the house wholeheartedly is a sign of respect.
Also, when you enter a Samoan house, the residents will likely sit down.
Greet the highest-ranking person while meeting them at their level and continue acknowledging the family according to their ranks. The host will offer refreshments as the guest is seated in the middle of the table to allow conversations to flow easily with everybody.