Friday, March 25, 2011


Steak and Lobster : An Old-Time Guam No-No in Lent!

When I was a younger priest I visited a family, and the mother, a woman in her 50s, who offered me lunch.  It was Lent, but not a Friday in Lent.  She offered me meat and fish, but would not eat both herself.  When I asked why, she said she was taught by her mother not to eat meat and fish at the same meal during the whole of Lent.  It was an old custom, she said.  On Fridays in Lent, of course, it was just guihan, no meat at all.

Years later I discovered sermons written in Chamorro in the 1870s and one of them explained that it was actually church law, and it applied to the Spanish colonies such as the Philippines and the Marianas, where the church relaxed the laws on fasting and abstinence.  These laws were stricter in Europe.  In exchange for relaxing the laws, the church required that, if one could eat meat every day in Lent (except on Fridays), at least let the people refrain from mixing meat with guihan on those days.

Here's what the sermon actually said :

"I Sånto Påpa...ha señåla nuebe dias ha' gi todo et åño, na debe u fanayunat..."   The Holy Father...has indicated only nine days in the entire year that you must fast..."

"I ha'åne siha nai atotta ma na' danña' kåtne yan guihan, este siha : todo i ha'åne siha gi kuaresma..."   The days when it is forbidden to mix meat and fish are these : all the days in Lent..."

These laws were later done away with, but some people stuck to the custom, up to this day.

As the manåmko' say : Maña i hechura, asta la seputtura!  We take our habits to the grave.

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