Hawai‘i’s Thanksgiving — the Makahiki

In ancient Hawai‘i, the rising of Makalii (the constellation Pleiades) over the eastern horizon at sunset signaled the beginning of Makahiki (similar to a harvest festival). The Makahiki lasted approximately four months, and during this time warfare, temple ceremonies, and all unnecessary work was kapu or forbidden. People were encouraged to engage in sport and games, music, and various artistic pursuits. Representatives of the ruling chiefs traveled around the island, collecting the products of the land, sea and the skilled hands of the people. From the earth came taro, sweet potatoes, and breadfruit; from the sea came fish, lobster, and crab. Durable gifts such as kapa (bark cloth), woven lauhala mats, feather work, and articles fashioned from wood were given. In return for this tribute, the people understood that blessings from the high chief (and through him the blessings of the gods) would assure them a year of good crops and general prosperity.

**Photo courtesy of Lehua Parker.