On the utterly remote chance that you’re a resident of the Pacific island nation of Samoa, your birthday falls on Dec. 30 and you’re reading this blog, congratulations are in order: you’ve realized the dream of many a baby boomer by postponing the aging process.
That’s because Samoa is eliminating Dec. 30 from its calendar for this one year as it switches time zones and jumps across the international date line.
As a result, Samoa went from 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 29 to 12 a.m. on Dec. 31.
The move, which takes Samoa from being one of the last places on earth to see the sun each day to being among the first, will enable the nation of 179,000 to be closer to its major trading partners in Australasia, according to Agence France-Presse.
“In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we’re losing out on two working days a week,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said, explaining the change.
“While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.”
The international date line – which runs through the middle of the Pacific – currently runs to the west of Samoa, meaning that it is 11 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time and is one of the last places on Earth to see out the day.
Curiously, the switch undoes a change made in 1892. Until then, Samoa was east of the date line, but King Malietoa Laupepa pushed to move to the western time because its primary trading partner at the time was the United States, particularly California.
The change then was made by repeating July 4, 1892, in the Samoan islands.
Currently, Samoa is 21 hours behind eastern Australia and 23 hours behind New Zealand. After the change, it will be one hour ahead of Wellington and three ahead of Sydney.
Samoa’s change doesn’t come without a cost: the remote nation has long marketed itself as the last place on Earth to see each day’s sunset.
“It will be really confusing for us. I just don’t see the point, and we don’t know the benefits yet,” islander Laufa Lesa told the Associated Press. “The government says it’s good for the economy, but it’s totally fine the way it is now.”
Tokelau, a group of atolls with a population of about 1,400 individuals, is about 300 miles north of Samoa.
(Above: Image from The Guardian.)