Monday, July 10, 2006

Carleen's Chamorro Wedding!

Cal's daughter Carleen got married over the weekend. They had the wedding reception at the round buidling (does it have another name?) in Garapan Central Park (right next to Sugar King Park).

We got to the party before the bride and groom arrived. They were driving around the island "amening" thier aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It's difficult to describe "amening" to non-Chamorros and non-Carolinans. As far as I know, and I don't know much, the Marianas are the only place where this custom is practiced.

You have to "amen" any relative that is a generation above you. So you have to amen your parents' brothers and sisters and your parents' parents, but you also have to amen your parents' cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. You don't have to amen your second cousins, because generationally you are the same rank. You do have to amen your parents' second cousins, though.

It can get really confusing, especially with the size of the families and the amount of intermarrying. For example, there is a particular Villagomez girl on island who is related to my three youngest brothers as a niece (her grandfather was my father's second cousin), a second cousin (her grandmother is the sister of my father's 3rd wife's mother), and a godsister (my father was her godfather; that's a Chamorro convention). So who amens who? A good rule of thumb is to just amen everybody who has grey hair.

I should probably describe how you do it. The person doing the amening goes up to their aunt or uncle and puts there nose close to the back of the aunt or uncles hand (kind of like if you were kissing a ring) and says "nor" if it is a uncle or "nora" if it is an aunt (pretend that there is an enye above each of those n's). Those words come from Se"nor" and Se"nora."

The aunt or uncle then says "God Bless You" in Chamorro, usually accompanied by a pinch on the cheek or some other sign of affection.

Amening has always been kind of awkward for me. The first time I visited my father in Saipan, which was in 1987 when I was 8, I thought amening was the weirdest thing. One of my American uncles used to play this game where he'd point at your shirt and say, "hey, what's that?" and then flick your nose and say, "NERT!" when you looked. I couldn't help but think of that everytime I amened one of my Saipan aunts or uncles.

Whew. I didn't mean to write so much about amening. Let's get back to the wedding.

The Carolinians have a custom where the Bride is carried from the car to the party. I think that's a pretty cool custom.

The party started when the bride and groom arrived. The food was all laid out and ready to be served. All they had to do was uncover it. After they uncover it, ladies stand next to the food and wave paper plates over it to keep the flies away. This is what it looks like:

You can see from the video that there were 5 buffet tables. I couldn't believe how much food there was. There was enough rice to feed the chinese army! They also had six pigs. Wowzers!

It was a great party! I should have taken more pictures, though. Not much to say after that. I ate a lot of food, drank a couple of beers, and had a good time.


Mona said...

Hahaha, very clever.

I think the money shot is a picture of people with their mountain-high plates of food and diet pepsis. Priceless.

Joe said...

So is it an honor to be asked to be a "plate waver" at one's wedding? I'm guessing it is right below "usher"

cicero frank said...

Heh. I miss fina deni (sp?) with roasted pork. Thanks for visiting my blog, by the way.

seagor said...

Tommy still plays the "nert" game! Some things never change.

erinfuckyeah said...

the practice of amening is known as "mano po" in the filipino culture. =)