The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 1 - Additional Cultural Background

Hawaiian Seasons, Months and Associated Practices

 

In ancient times, the months were marked by the appearance of different stars and constellations in the eastern sky at sunset. The names of the months varied from district to district and island to island. The following names are from the Prince Kuhi'o Hawaiian Civic Club Calendar, published annually.

Ho'oilo (Cooler, Wetter Season)
Welehu (Oct.-Nov.)--Makali'i (Pleiades) appears in the ENE sky after sunset. Rainy season. Makahiki, a four-month long harvest festival, dedicated to Lono, a god of rain and agriculture, began toward the end of Kau and continued into the new year. 'Opelu and akule fishing.

Makali'i (Nov.-Dec.)--Sun rises and sets at its southern limit (winter solstice). Land prepared for planting. 'Opelu and akule fishing; 'ama'ama (mullet) spawning and kapu through Feb. Kohola (humpbacked-whales) feed and breed in island waters through April.

Ka'elo (Dec.-Jan.)--'A'a (Sirius) and Orion in the eastern evening sky. 'Uala (sweet potato) planting in dry leeward areas to take advantage of winter rains. Reef and inshore fishing.

Kaulua (Jan.-Feb.)--Ke Ali'i o Kona i ka Lewa (Canopus) in the SE by S evening sky. In traditional times, aku kapu lifted at the end of Makahiki; 'opelu kapu through July during its spawning season; reef and inshore fishing. Planting period for all crops--kalo, 'uala. Gourds, wauke (bark cloth), olona (for cordage), bananas, yams, arrowroot.

Nana (Feb.-Mar.)--Sun rises due east and sets due west (spring equinox). Mulch and weed gardens; vigorous plant growth begins. 'Ama'ama fishing season opens; malolo (flying fish) spawning.

Welo (Mar.-April)--Leo in the eastern evening sky. All things grow, crops maturing. 'Ama'ama and malolo fishing. Deep-sea fishing through summer. 'Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua (monk seal) pups are born, spring through summer

Hinaia'ele'ele (June-July)--Manaiakalani (Maui's Fishhook, or Scorpio) in the SE evening sky. Humid weather, sudden storms. 'Ohi'a 'ai (mountain apple) ripens; gourds and melons ripen. In traditional times, 'opelu kapu lifted; aku kapu through Jan. during its spawning season; akule spawning.

Hilinaehu (July-August)--Leo in the western evening sky. 'Ohi'a 'ai abundant. He'e (octopus) fishing with lures.

Hilinama (Aug.-Sept.)--Sun rises due east and sets due west (fall equinox). Tubers ripen for harvest; sugar cane blossoms, vines dying off. Ula and moi season; 'opelu fishing.

'Ikuwa (Sept.-Oct.)--Iwakeli'i (Cassiopeia) in the NNE evening sky. Thunder and rain. Plant growth slows. Kalo and 'uala harvest. Preparation for the Makahiki Harvest Festival. Akule and 'Opelu plentiful.

Ka'aona (May-June)--Sun rises and sets at its northern limit (summer solstice). 'Ulu (breadfruit) ripens. Ula (lobster) and moi kapu through August during their spawning seasons. Aku and 'ahi (tuna) season.

Kau (Hotter, Drier Season)
Ikiiki (April-May)--Makali'i in the WNW evening sky; Hokule'a (Arcturus) in the ENE evening sky. 'Uala planting with summer rains. Honu (green sea turtles) come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand through summer. Great schools of moi (threadfish) and malolo.