Makahiki: An Ancient Tradition
Hawaiians have celebrated Makahiki, also known as “year” and ” new year,” nearly as long as the islands became inhabited 1.500-2,000 years ago. The celebration lasts for months and carries over from the end of one year into the new year. The exact time locals perform rituals and events varies depending on the placement of specific stars and constellations. The constellations represent gods, such as Lono, the god of fertility.
Like many cultures, the Makahiki season exists to make offerings to and worship gods. In this view, the gods were responsible for bountiful harvests, prosperity, and bountiful offspring. During this time, island leaders prohibited warfare and most work. Instead, locals held sporting events, worshipped, and celebrated. However, the exact details varied from island to island.
Gods of Prosperity and Fertility
People worshipped Lono, god of fertility, by paying taxes and making offerings in hopes Lono would bless them with abundance in the year ahead. A long pole with an image of Lono acted as a representation. The people prayed for health, success, and bountiful harvests. Some groups participated in ceremonial bathing in the sea.
Another god, Akua Pa’ani, was known as the god of sports. The people participated in sports, games, and festivals for days on end to honor him.
Although Makahiki lasts around four months, the formal rites and rituals only occurred when the gods—represented by constellations—lodged in the sky above their specific area. Therefore, people could work and eat throughout the Hawaiian new year event. The end of Makahiki typically ended with a giant feast and ceremonies.
Today’s Hawaiian New Year Celebrations
Today, the people still celebrate aspects of Makahiki. For instance, the tenth annual Makahiki Challenge will occur in Oahu in February 2022. The event includes a 5K mud race and obstacle course. The Moloka’i island celebrates with a yearly festival that commemorates the harvest season. No matter where you go in your rental car in Hawaii, you should be able to locate an event or activity that acknowledges the Hawaiian new year.
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Sources: https://keolamagazine.com/culture/makahiki-hawaiian-winter-holiday/, https://www.everfest.com/e/ka-moloka-i-makahiki-festival-kaunakakai-hi, https://www.gohawaii.com/islands/events/makahiki-challenge-10th-annual,