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Frontline

A Polynesian Thanksgiving

A time to celebrate faith, family, and food

The+girl%27s+of+the+family+getting+ready+for+the+tauolunga.
The girl's of the family getting ready for the tauolunga.

The girl's of the family getting ready for the tauolunga.

The girl's of the family getting ready for the tauolunga.

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Ilaise Tamotuu

Staff Writer

  Although the Thanksgiving tradition is said to have started with the first Native American and Puritan dinner, it has not stopped American families, no matter what race, from celebrating what and how they are thankful; my family is no exception.

  My Thanksgiving day is celebrated with family, faith, and food.

 First, the family comes and we meet at the cemetery to visit my late grandfather. My many aunts and uncles along with their children all come over to my home where the women and young ladies, as young as six, cook in the kitchen and men, as well as their sons, barbecue outside.

  This is where the magic happens, the young girls are taught recipes passed down from generation to generation and the soon to be young men are taught the traditional ‘tunu puaka’ or the ‘pig roast’.

  Once all the food is ready, the table is set and everyone gathers around. We sing a Tongan hymn and celebrate our love for our creator and his love for us. We pray and finally we eat. While we eat, everyone stands and says what they are thankful for. The food is now all done, but the party has just begun.

  Now, the young ladies perform the traditional ‘tauolunga’ a dance of praise and happiness while the men perform their ‘kailao’ or spear dance. To show your thanks and happiness, while the performance is going, money is thrown in the air and falls about the dancers. In the end, the money goes to either the performers or the oldest members of our family.

  In our Tongan culture, it is especially important to thank your parents, grandparents, and any older guardian figure for all they have done for you. The children all make ‘leis’ or flower necklaces with money attached and ‘kahoa’ the guests and elder family members.

  The night is almost over and all the young kids beg their parents to stay the night and everyone older than twenty one makes their way to the casino. Being thankful continues for the rest of the night and continues on forever, even when the family goes their separate ways.

  

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A Polynesian Thanksgiving