The Makahiki season is the ancient Hawaiian New Year Festival in honor of Lono, the Hawaiian god of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music, and peace. The season happens around this time of the year from October or November through February or March. In ancient Hawaiian times, this season revolved around games that focused on agility and strength. It was a time for great feasts of commemoration. Labor was prohibited as this time was dedicated to giving thanks to Lono for the blessings and peace that he brought to the land. During this period, ancient Hawaiians would go through a spiritual cleansing and offering called hoʻokupu. They would also celebrate with hula dancing, sports, singing, and feasting. Most of the games were either physical or mind sports. Some of them were ʻulu maika, ʻōʻō ihe, hukihuki, pā uma, and haka moa – all of these games were made to develop physical, mental, and spiritual strength. During this phase of the year Hawaiians recognized the changing of the seasons from kau (summer) to ho’oilo (winter).
Today, makahiki games and traditions are not as prevalent, but still flow throughout the Hawaiian culture and their importance emulates throughout Native Hawaiians schools and traditions. Many Native Hawaiians still organize makahiki events to honor Lono and celebrate the renewal of the Native Hawaiian culture. As makahiki season approaches, it reminds us to remember the complex and exciting cultural traditions of the native Hawaiian — Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou!
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