Sunday, January 26, 2014


Today, if you happen to be on Guam, you can head down to the Guam Fishermen's Coop next to Chamorro Village in Hagåtña to celebrate the 6th Annual Chamorro Lunar Calendar Festival.

In Chamorro, it is being billed as the : GUPOT FANHA'ANIYAN PULAN CHAMORU

When an elderly Chamorro man who speaks fluent Chamorro came up to me with the flyer for this event and asked me what fanha'aniyan meant, I knew I had better blog about it.

In Chamorro, we have a wonderful device called the FAN+WORD+AN construction.

Put any word, noun or verb, in the middle and out comes : PLACE OF or TIME OF.

Remember that the suffix -AN usually means, in Chamorro, PLACE or TIME of.

So, if we look at the middle term in fanha'aniyan, we find ha'åni, sometimes spelled ha'åne.

Ha'åni means "day" or "life."

So, fanha'aniyan means "place of days."  In other words, calendar!

If you notice, a Y has been added to -AN because it just sounds nicer to Chamorro ears to say fanha'aniyan rather than fanha'anian.


Just as an aside, pulan itself has multiple meanings.

It means the "moon."

Since the moon watches over us at night, it can also mean "to watch over."

Since each new moon begins a new lunar cycle, pulan has a third meaning : month.

Påle' Román, a Basque Spaniard and Capuchin missionary, can be credited for promoting the use of the indigenous word pulan for "month" and fanha'aniyan for "calendar" (instead of the Spanish-based words mes and kalendårio) because he used these indigenous terms in his many Chamorro books and pamphlets.

Personally, I like using all these terms.  Know the indigenous, but also know what generations of our mañaina have been using for three hundreds years, as well.  Otherwise, we miss out of three centuries of custom.

By the way, the indigenous word for "year" is såkkan, which also means "harvest.  But three centuries of Chamorros also used the Spanish word año.  Thousands of Chamorros for many years were equally adept at using either or both words for the same thing.


Before the Spaniards came and gave us the Western calendar, our ancestors went by the moon.  They had a lunar calendar, since it is easy to mark the different phases of the moon.  The Chamorro lunar calendar was made up of thirteen moons, or months.

It's no wonder that this event is being held at the Fisherman's Coop, because traditional fishermen also use the phases of the moon to guide their fishing activities.

To learn more about this, go to :

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