Tuesday, February 14, 2017


According to an American missionary writing right after the war, one of the customs some Chamorros observed concerning weddings was the lamenting of the marriage. Rather than parents and other elders in the family rejoicing over the newlyweds, they would weep and bewail the wedding as something horrible!

Other writers have stated that the bride's family generally bewailed the loss of the daughter to the groom's family. The wedding breakfast hosted by the bride's family, for example, was without music, because the bride's family saw nothing joyful about losing their daughter that morning to the groom and his family. The wedding breakfast had a somber tone to it, and was finished as soon as possible. Nobody wanted such a serious and formal meal to be prolonged more than necessary.

But the American missionary adds this. Female relatives on both sides of the family went through the motions of regretting the wedding. It's important to understand that this regret may not have been real; both families may have indeed been very happy over the marriage. But custom dictated that older relatives display some displeasure that their son or daughter was, in some sense, leaving the nest.

It was the custom that neither set of parents attended the actual wedding in church. Godparents and other relatives would attend. So, after the wedding, the couple would go to the bride's parents first and kneel before them. The mother of the bride would begin to cry and wail, "Ai hagå-ho! Gof na' masi' na hagå-ho!" "Oh my daughter! My most pitiable daughter!" The mother would continue to state that the groom would be a bad provider, that he is lazy, that he will be a drinker, that she will have a miserable life with him and so on.

Then the couple would go to the groom's parents' house and the routine would be repeated. This time, the groom's mother would say that her son would never be fed right by the new wife, that his clothes will never be clean or repaired, that the house would always be filthy and so on.


My great grandmother was an only child. She had six children but never married. Elders in my family explained that her parents would never consent to her getting married because, as the one and only child, and especially being a woman, her parents would have lost her to the groom's family, thus leaving mother and father alone with no one to care for them in their old age.

It's not that brides abandoned their parents entirely. But the bride would definitely be unable to give her parents unlimited attention as a married woman, since she now lived with her husband, with her own children to raise. Men had more opportunity and freedom to attend to their parents.

Of course, as in almost all things, not everyone observed this. Not every single Chamorro family lived by one code.

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