Sunday, December 1, 2013

Makahiki begins the Hawaiian New Year, December 4, 2013

December 4
Makahiki (start of the Hawaiian year).  To mark the start of the Makahiki season: 1) wait for the star cluster of the Pleiades to rise at sunset, which occurs every year on November 17; 2) wait for the new moon that follows this sunset rising of the Pleiades, which occurs in 2013 on December 2; 3) wait for the first visible crescent moon that follows this new moon.  This year, this slender crescent should be visible in the west at dusk on December 4, thus marking the start of the Makahiki season and of the Hawaiian year. - Bishop Museum Planetarium

The citing of the rising cluster of stars called Makali'i (the Pleiades) at sunset in the Hawaiian Islands means we look for them in the sky above us in the Pacific Northwest woods when the sky is dark around my birthday (November 16). We've seen the cluster, know the stars move close and feel the presence of our 'ohana even more.

Makahiki In Ancient Times 

"Makahiki can be a confusing word. It translates to English from Hawaiian as "year" or "new year," and also refers to the four lunar month long season which heralds the new year in the Hawaiian calendar.
In ancient times, as the old year drew to a close, the priests associated with certain temples on the western side of each inhabited Hawaiian island would watch for the appearance of Makali`i - the Pleiades - a star cluster which appears in the evening sky in the Gregorian calendar's October. When the kahuna, the priests, could finally distinguish Makali`i in the eastern sky shortly after sunset, they announced the next new moon would begin the Makahiki season. This was a time when warfare and most work were prohibited and the people celebrated with games and sports.  [Makahiki was a time of Lono, god of fertility and abundance]...Before the arrival of Lono-Makua (Father Lono) to preside over the Makahiki in a given district, taxes were collected in the form of offerings to Lono-Makua. The offerings included vegetable food, such as taro, hard taro paste, sweet potatoes, chickens, and dogs, dried fish, clothing, rope, feathers, feather lei, and anything else of value or needed for daily life. These things would be used to help support the functioning of the royal court and the priesthood to in the next year." -Leilehua Yuen
Last year Pete and I began the Makahiki Season by (me) re-telling one of teacher, storyteller and educator/entertainer Leilehua Yuen's stories (with her permission ... mahalo e Leilehua) about Makali'i; and shared a traditional Hawaiian New Year's checker-like game konane with our Whidbey Island community. We may bring out our konane boards and li'i stones again this year, and I hope to share Leilehua's story of how 'Iole the rat saved Hawaii ... in The Safety Pin Cafe. For now here is a link to 'How Iole the rat saved Hawaii.' How much does one man (one chief) need? Does one much maligned creature like the rat deserve to have a story perpetuated? And, is any of this true, Aunty? Well, listen and read for yourself and then decide what you will pass along as truth.

Here for the story of 'Iole.

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