If you’re wondering where the world’s day begins and ends and what’s the dividing line between the eastern and western hemispheres, it’s the 180 degree line of longitude in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, better known as the International Date Line.
You’ve heard me mention it in a few posts from time to time on TransGriot when I give shoutouts to my readers on the western side of it on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
What it means is that when you cross the International Date Line going westbound, you pick up a day and going eastbound you lose a day once you cross it..
The International Date Line has been adjusted over the years to accommodate the needs of Pacific nations such as Kiribati, which put the entire island nation chain on the western side of it. The date line makes a westerly jog once it passes through the Bering Strait between Russia and the United States so the parts of the Aleutian Island chain west of the 180 longitude line are on the same date with the rest of Alaska.
In a bid to get better aligned time and date wise with its trading partners in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and other Pacific Rim nations Samoa and the three island New Zealand administered territory of Tokelau at midnight today will skip ahead from Thursday to New Year’s Eve (Saturday).
Samoa made the decision in May and Tokelau followed suit in October. It reverses a decision made 119 years ago in which Samoa switched to the east side of the International Date Line in order to better position itself with trading partners in the US and Europe and nearby American Samoa.
“In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we’re losing out on
two working days a week,” said Samoan Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele
Samoa made the shift to driving on the left side of the road back in 2009 as well to put it more in line with its Asian Pacific Rim neighbors driving habits.
So if you have a Friday, December 30 birthday in Samoa, you won’t get to celebrate it unless you do so today or on New Year’s Eve because that day will not exist.
You may also wish to check your airline and hotel reservations for that day in Samoa as well.