One of the most misunderstood countries in the world is Guam. Is it really a country or just an island? Is it run by the United States or does it have its own government? Is it primarily a military base or beach resort? And what about culture and festivals in Guam? Are the people and events primarily Asian, Spanish or American?
Simply put, Guam is a beautiful island-nation, a US territory and not a state, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With a total land area of only 212 square miles, the population is composed of Asian migrants, native people of Chamorro, US military personnel, and Spanish settlers since this was once a colony of Spain. This mixture of people and races means one thing – a rich and colorful culture that is uniquely Guam’s.
Besides the white beaches and amazing dive sites, people also come for the local festivals. Guam’s three most important cultural events are Liberation Day, Malojloj Fiesta, and Chamorro Lunar Calendar Festival, to name a few.
Clearly, the most important day in Guam is July 21 when parades and feasts take place, banks and schools close, and people hit the streets to celebrate Liberation Day. In 1941, Japanese forces seized the island and took control for three years. The Chamorro people consider this time as the darkest years in Guam’s history. In 1944, the Americans came and recaptured the island.
Liberation Day celebration is a week-long event with festivals, carnivals and feasts. There are also nightly fireworks around the island’s 19 villages. These all culminate on the 21st with major parades, floats and several forms of entertainment such as concerts and parties in Hagatña, capital of Guam. The yearly Guam Liberation Day Parade begins at Marine Corps Drive Adelup and ends by the Paseo de Hagatña. American forces participate with a beautiful display of colors.
People crowd the streets causing heavy traffic jams in all directions, since everyone in the island, locals and tourists alike, are invited to join. It’s one big party for everyone.
Another important and popular festival is the Malojloj Fiesta or Coconut Festival in the town of Inarajan in May. This is a three-day festival to honor St. Joseph. It is loaded with food, music, dancing, drinking and partying in the streets. The main attractions are home-made Chamorro foods and beer. Malojloj is a community in the Municipality of Inarajan that relies largely on the coconut as a source of food, shelter, commerce, clothes, and medicine. The festival honors the coconut for sustaining life in the island as a very important commodity. As always, tourists and visitors are much welcome to join the feasts and taste uniquely delicious Chamorro food and beer.
The third popular festival is the Chamorro Lunar Calendar Festival near Chamorro Village, which aims to preserve and propagate native Chamorro culture. The event aims to provide a better understanding of the local culture.
Besides these three major cultural events, the island also celebrates New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, US Independence Day, Labor Day, All Souls’ Day, Thanksgiving, Immaculate Conception Day, and Christmas. Culture and Festivals in Guam are definite proof that this tiny country is proud of its heritage and has a lot to offer to the world.