We sing it in Latin as Adeste Fidelis, laetre triumphantes. We sing it in English as O Come All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant. We sing it in Chamorro in the land of our own nativity as Fan-Mato Man-Hengge. This musical score is easily one of the most widely known pieces in the world. In whatever language it is sung, the lyrics convey the same message to the faithful -- come to Bethlehem and receive God's gift to the world, the newborn in the manger, the Lord Jesus Christ. December 25th is His birthday.
Respect and sentiment associated with this day are so very strong and meaningful that opposing forces in battle have been know to declare truce on Christmas Day. There are many accounts in literature of soldiers of one nation singing Christmas songs in their language and hearing response in a different language from enemy soldiers across the battlefield.
Christmas Day is a religious day of obligation for the faithful and it is fervently celebrated on Guam by going to Mass, to Christ's Mass, Christmas. Their devotion to Christ and reaffirmation of their love for Him is the faithful's gift to the Lord on His birthday.
In the Guam tradition, families throughout Guam create miniature scenes of Bethlehem, called Belen, most likely a contraction of the word, Bethlehem. A nine-day novena, called Nobenan Ninio, is started on various dates which are designed to terminate on Christmas Day, New Year's Day, or Three Kings' Day, depending on the family's choice.
As a youngster in San Nicolas District in Agana, I looked forward to Christmas Day for on that day, mother made small cakes, called cake chamorro, to offer as gifts to those who attended the final night of the novena. In keeping with Chamorro tradition, she would also offer something special from Guam's natural resources. From dago, which is white yam, she would make donuts that are served with a tasty coconut syrup called, anibat tuba. This syrup is so delightfully delicious that young children, as well as adults, have been known to enjoy the syrup with their curled fingers when the donuts run out.
This particular Belen was in a private home where family members and friends gather for nine evenings of prayers and singing in celebration of the coming of Christ. This beautiful observance which has been going on for centuries, is credited by the manamko, the elderly of Guam, as one of the major binding forces that keeps Guam's culture strong, despite external economic, linguistic,political, and religious influences which have subdued local cultures in other places.