5th Marianas History Conference Day 7 - 10

Page 9

Panel: Celebrating Heritage

Burego’ Joyful Christmas Celebration

By Mrs. Cheryl and Dr. Lawrence Cunningham

Abstract: Burego’ was a joyful custom of masquerading during the Christmas season. This custom was introduced during Spanish colonial times and was practiced until the early 1960s in southern Guahan. Like Christmas customs the world over it incorporated indigenous practices. A description of this Joyful Burego’ Celebration is based on the personal experiences of Dr. Judy S. Flores and the interviews of Pale’ Eric Forbes and Dr. Lawrence J. Cunningham. In addition a photograph from Luta and an illustration from Inalahan will be presented. Colonial cultural appropriation and abandonment will also be discussed.

O’ Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant!

It was the Eve before Christmas and all through the house I smelled the fragrance of bonelas dagu and I’m singing carols to my spouse.

When out in the street I heard such joyful clamor. I sent John boy to the porch to see what’s the matter. John Boy said “Is that a young lady dressed as a lanchero? Is that Joe dressed in a woman’s mestiza?” Then John boy reported another teenager wearing a mask and a gunny sack. He asked “Are those taotaomo’na wearing white sheets with black smudges on their faces? Who is that gunot masked man and those mustached banditos in a sombrero? Who’s that 9 foot giant? Is he on stilts? He’s scaring the angels, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus! No wonder those boys are throwing eggs at him!” What was going on?John boy just didn’t know. When I heard from the outdoor kitchen - “It’s just burego’”.

Burego’ was a joyful CHamoru Christmas celebration in the Mariana Islands. Young people, but primarily teenagers, masqueraded and went house to house in their costumes. There was bawdy and risqué banter between the people who came out on their porch and the revelers. My wife came out from the kitchen with a tray of bonelos dagu to share with the masqueraders.

District officer Georg Fritz took this photograph in Luta, December 24, circa 1905. This photo is courtesy of Pale’ Eric Forbes and The Micronesia Area Research Center, University of Guam. The caption for this BUREGO’ IN THE MARIANA ISLANDS photograph is

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