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Hau'oli Makahiki Hou New Year in Hawaii

By Amanda Kurth
Published: 12/08/21 Topics: Comments: 0

Photo credit: Amanda Kurth

The ancient Hawaiian New Year festival known throughout the island chain marks the celebration of Makahiki. And this white girl wants to be a part of the conversation.

The year is 2005, and I'm on my way out of high school when a book was re-released as a limited edition. My advanced placement (AP) Literature teacher at the time picked it up and brought it into class, waxing poetic about his formative writing years.

The book was like a wild ride into another dark side of Americana. It's to Hawai'i what Fear and Loathing was to Las Vegas: the crazy tales of a journalist's "coverage."

Infamous gonzo-style writer Hunter S. Thompson describes his time on the Big Island in an article commissioned by Running Magazine to report on the Hawaii Marathon in 1980. A few years later, his book, The Curse Of Lono, was released, and only 1000 publications were ever produced.

In the book, Thompson often breaks away into excerpts of The Last Voyage of Captain Cook. And on occasion, details clobbering his ocean catches to death with Samoan war

On Kaua'i, Makahiki celebrations take off at the beginning of October with morning ceremonies at a south-shore heiau. The variance of the season's arrival depends on who you ask. This ancient celebration is a four-month period of truce, harvest, taxes, games, relaxation and mo'olelo (the Hawaiian word for story) amongst the neighboring islands.

In antiquity- women, men, and young children would mark the beginning of the Hawaiian new year when a specific collection of glittering space-gems against the black velvet drape of night. Na hiku o Makali'i (Pleiades) appeared at sunset, and the Kanaka Maoli (commoners) would invoke the bounty and protections the god Lono provided.

Often associated with 'ikua (the noisy month), Lono's visualized as storm-clad clouds, like thunder, the partial rainbow, whirlwinds, and even waterspouts.

Fast forward to the present day, Ka Moloka'i Makahiki festival has been celebrating this time of year en masse since 1981. They "are beginning to see the second and third generation of Moloka'i youths assist with the program," says Maria Holmes, a Hawaiian cultural activist who handles publicity for Ka Moloka'i Makahiki.

Her attitude is that "Education" is a major aim of the Organization. No one else in the state has a cultural program that has worked with so many youths for such a long period of time."

Sure, many families or grandfathered-in-stewards still live and work in the heart of these chartreuse and sage landscapes, passing on those traditions to the next generation. But the historical obligations and recognition of Lono, the akua of the Makahiki season, are not synonymous with how the residents of Hawai'i remember it today.

Generally speaking, Hawaiian customs and folklore live on through the margins of modern hotel resorts, replete with games and festivities for its travelers. Some schools and churches include food drives too. Items are then donated to charity and distributed island-wide throughout the holiday.

However, this season, traditions are getting a new show of appreciation by locals. Hawaii Farm Trails- a statewide concept of agri-tourism as a responsible alternative to conventional tourism, will host a Makahiki event on Kaua'i in mid-January.

Hawaii Farm Trails works closely with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Agritourism Association, USDA, Cultivate Resilience and many more to further perpetuate Hawaiian culture, food from farm to table and boundless mo'olelo.

Although the Kaua'i Festivals and Events webpage has not officially saved the date, the event is slated to begin Saturday, January 15, 2022, at 9 AM in the Lihue area of Kaua'i. It will feature ancient Hawaiian games, cultural demonstrations, displays and crafts by community groups, and ono street food.

Living in Hawaii comes with education and recognition of indebtedness. It's a privilege to live on the shores of this sea-cradled state. Where you can fancy-free night-time sparklers.

The fascinating history of this island chain consumes me every day. It's my hope that this love letter reflects my gratitude for cultural diversity in itself and expresses genuine tributes of thanks to the Hawaiian people for cultivating my curiosity.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

Author: Amanda Kurth
Blog #: 0851 – 12/08/21

Comments: 0

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