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The rising of Makaliʻi (the constellation Pleiades) at sunset marks the beginning of the Hawaiian new year, known as Makahiki. This satellite image of Makaliʻi is courtesy of Davide Simonetti, 2017.

Kūkahekahe: Lonoikamakahiki!

Nov. 16, 2021

  • Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group

In this Kūkahekahe article, we celebrate the Makahiki and the upcoming season of thanksgiving and peace.

Lonoikamahakahiki! Lonoikamakahiki! Lonoikamakahiki!

The rising of Makaliʻi (the constellation Pleiades) at sunset marks the beginning of the Hawaiian new year, known as Makahiki. In Hawaiʻi, Makahiki usually begins in mid-November and ends in late-January or February. It is a time to honor Lono, one of the four major gods recognized not only here in Hawaiʻi, but throughout the Pacific. This season is one of peace, feasting, and rejuvenation. Makahiki is a harvest celebration, a universal expression of thanks and appreciation, a period of reflection, recognition, and pride in what has been produced during the year. In traditional times, the richness of the land was gathered from each ahupuaʻa and offered as tribute to appease the gods and to ensure ongoing abundance.

Perhaps most noticeably, Makahiki marks a change in our seasonal weather patterns, as we move into our rainy and cool season known as Hoʻoilo. The month of ʻIkuā, which means “noisy,” usually begins in September or October. This month is characterized by roaring surf, thunderstorms, and rain. This boisterous personality of ʻIkuā signals the approach of Makahiki.

Among the ʻike surrounding Makahiki is this particular moʻolelo of the naming of our beloved constellation Makaliʻi. An aliʻi of Kona, Hawaiʻi decides to hoard his people’s food into one enormous carrying net and hangs it in the highest stratum of the heavens, where no one could reach it. A mouse volunteers to take on the arduous task and gnaws on the net until the food drops to the earth. Thus, the constellation takes the name Makaliʻi, as a reminder of the evil aliʻi who hung the net of food in the stars.

This year we welcome the arrival of Makahiki season and the rising of the constellation Makaliʻi (Pleiades/ the Seven Sisters) in the eastern sky with the sunset in the western sky around November 18th.  There are also astronomical events that will happen around this time; pouli ka mahina, or a rare lunar eclipse, will also happen on the night of November 18th. For Hawaiʻi Island, the sun will be directly below ka pae ʻāina at midnight, which is known as a solar nadir.

E ka ʻohana Kamehameha, Makahiki provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our hard work and achievements of the past year. We can celebrate and feel proud of our accomplishments at work on behalf of ke aliʻi Pauahi, as well as those within our families and communities. To celebrate Makahiki we encourage you to try and watch the rising of Makaliʻi, share a meal safely with family and friends, and telling someone special you are thankful for them.

Check out our Ka’iwakīloumoku website for more information and lots of resources about Makahiki!

And to learn more about kilo (observing) and the moon phases and learn more about important astronomical events in our island skies like the rising of Makaliʻi, check out Hō Mai ka Pono.

kūkahekahe, new year, thanksgiving, makahiki

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