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Celebrating the Makahiki Season: A Time of Renewal and Peace


As the vibrant hues of autumn give way to the gentle embrace of winter, the Hawaiian Islands begin to celebrate one of their most cherished and historically significant periods: the Makahiki season. This ancient Hawaiian festival, which started a few weeks ago, marks a period of both spiritual and social importance, deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the Hawaiian people.


The Origins of Makahiki


Makahiki season traditionally begins as the Pleiades constellation, known as Makali'i in Hawaiian, becomes visible above the horizon at sunset. This astronomical event, usually occurring around mid-October to early November, signals the start of a new year in the traditional Hawaiian lunar calendar.


The season stretches over four lunar months, approximately from November to February, and is a time dedicated to the god Lono, associated with fertility, agriculture, and peace. The arrival of Makahiki was a period of rest and rejuvenation, where warfare was prohibited, and the focus shifted to celebration, feasting, and games.


A Time of Peace and Festivity


During Makahiki, the usual rigors of daily life were set aside. Instead, the community engaged in various activities that strengthened their bonds and celebrated their culture. Sports like spear throwing (‘ō‘ō ihe), bowling (‘ulu maika), and surfing (he‘e nalu) were popular, alongside traditional games like konane (a Hawaiian board game similar to checkers).


The season was also a time for tribute to chiefs and the gods. Tributes were in the form of taxes – often produce from the land like taro, sweet potato, and breadfruit. These offerings were collected by representatives of the ali‘i (chiefs) in a ceremonial procession around the island, honoring the bounty of the land and sea.


The Spiritual Significance


Spiritually, Makahiki was a time for the Hawaiians to connect with their gods and ancestors. It was a period of renewal, where the land and its people could rest and prepare for the year ahead. The rituals performed during this time were believed to ensure the continued fertility of the land and the well-being of the community.


Makahiki in Modern Times


Today, the Makahiki season is a time to honor Hawaiian culture and its deep connection to the land and the natural world. While the traditional practices of tribute and ritual may not be as prevalent, the spirit of Makahiki is kept alive through cultural festivals, educational programs, and community gatherings.


These events often include traditional sports, hula dancing, music, and storytelling, providing an opportunity for Hawaiians and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the islands.


Conclusion


The Makahiki season is more than just a historical observance; it's a living tradition that embodies the values of peace, community, and respect for the land. As we celebrate this season, we are reminded of the importance of taking time to rest, to connect with our community and heritage, and to prepare for the future with a renewed spirit.


As the Makahiki season continues, let us embrace its lessons and carry its spirit of peace and renewal throughout the year.

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