Sunday, August 26, 2012


The Åtkos and the Karosa underneath
Fiestan Santa Rosa, Hågat

The patron of Hågat, Santa Rosa de Lima, is celebrated annually on her feast day which used to fall on August 30 in the old church calendar.  In 1899, August 30 fell on a Wednesday.  The first American Navy Governor of Guam, Captain Richard P. Leary, prepared Executive Order No. 4 on the Friday before, on August 25, prohibiting the public observance of patronal feasts in the villages.

Executive Order No. 4 stated :

"Public Celebrations of feast days of the patron saints of villages, etc. will not be permitted. The church and its members may celebrate their religious feast days within the walls of the church, chapel or private residence, in accordance with regulations for the maintenance of the public peace, and unless, otherwise ordered, the only public holidays recognized will be Sundays, and the holidays authorized by the United States Statute Laws, and by the proclamations of His Excellency, the President of the United States."

Just in time for the Hågat Fiesta!  The letter of the law thus forbade processions and the erecting of arches (åtkos) in the streets of the village.  Do your thing, he said, but inside the walls of your church.

The story goes that the Executive Order was hand-delivered to the people of Hågat the day of the fiesta.

After Leary left, this Executive Order was no longer observed, and we all went back to processing (lukao) in the village streets.

"No more lukao!  No more åtkos!"

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