Tongan Sundays and living the slow life


Two years ago we spent three months living and working with humpback whales in Tonga — a place of turquoise water, welcoming locals and fragrant frangipanis  — but our favourite thing about it was Tongan Sundays. On Sundays, Tongans don't do anything. No mowing the lawn, no snorkelling, no climbing trees to gather coconuts, no dancing — and definitely no work. Every Sunday the Tongan people rest, leaving only time to go to Church, be with family, cook in the underground earth over "umu", eat and sleep (lots of sleeping!). Tongans don't even ride a bike on Sundays (unless it's to or from Church).  


As palangi (foreigners) we didn't have to follow these customs but we embraced them wholeheartedly, and after three months we felt the soothing and grounding effects of a weekly slow day. 

Now we're back in Australia, but Tongan Sundays have come home with us and it's a day that we genuinely look forward to. To us it means no alarms, no phones, emails or plans. We might not go to church but we get out into nature — whether it's surfing, diving, hiking, finding a new path or road to explore.



Slowing down is good for the soul and, ultimately, it's good for the planet. It's a way of returning to a simpler time — a time before businesses were open on Sundays, or we had our phones glued to our hands — but a time that was richer. It's an antidote to a world that moves pretty fast sometimes and encourages us to do more, spend more, use more. Imagine if we all spent our Sundays simply being present with each other and the beautiful world around us?