This family puts up a huge belen in their carport. Mom leads the nobena as techa. The nobena is in Chamorro and the children can say the basic prayers in Chamorro. Mom began praying the Nobenan Niño the very first year she was married, as her husband had bought a nativity set from Butler's for $50. That's in 1958 dollar value. Since then, especially as some pieces got chipped or broken, she has augmented her belen with new statues bought over the years from the Carmelite Nuns, who got them from Spain. She has been tempted four times all these years to skip a Christmas novena, in order to travel to the mainland. She has turned down those trips every time. Her Nobenan Niño is a priority.
At her nobena, they sang "Si Jose yan si Maria" in the older melody. Compare this with the other melody posted on December 13 : http://paleric.blogspot.com/2011/12/si-jose-yan-si-maria.html
WHEN DOES THE NOBENA START AND END?
That depends on the people holding it. First you decide when you want to end the nobena (the finakpo). Then you count nine days back. Most people want to end it on December 25, so they start the nobena on December 17. But others want to end it on January 1, or January 6 (Three Kings; Tres Reyes). Other families end theirs on other days, too, for their own reasons.
WHY NINE DAYS OR NIGHTS?
On Ascension Thursday, Jesus told His Apostles to wait and pray and they would receive a great grace promised them - the Holy Spirit. Nine full days exist between Ascension Thursday on the one hand and Pentecost Sunday on the other. So the custom developed to pray nine days for a needed grace, in imitation of the Apostles waiting and praying in the Upper Room as Jesus instructed them to do.