Happy Matariki, (Maori New Year) to you all!

100_3340I love a good New Year celebration, but the January one has less meaning here than Matariki, which is seasonally appropriate, and a much needed celebration in the dark of winter. Matariki is celebrated on the new moon after the constellation Matariki (a.k.a. the Pleiades, Subaru, 7 Sisters) appears in the pre-dawn sky, after being absent from the night sky since April.

The modern celebration of Matariki only dates back to the early 2000s, and is a quirky blend of Maori traditions and European ideas. Kite and lantern making, food, song, and traditional crafts have all become part of the modern celebrations. Matariki is a time for looking back and honouring the past, and for looking forward with hope. It is a time to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest, and to begin to prepare for the coming planting.

So this Matariki, I will honour the spirit of my grandfather, who died late last year and taught me to pursue my dreams, even if it meant striking off the beaten path. I will look forward to the future, striving to make the coming year I find my place in my new career. I will celebrate the bounty of the past summer’s garden, bringing out jars of summer soup, peaches, and pumpkins for a weekend of glorious food. I will begin to prepare for next year’s garden, weeding the strawberries, and planting garlic in the cold, wet soil. I will celebrate light amidst the dark of winter, with candles and toasted marshmallows over a campfire.

May you find wonderful things to celebrate this weekend, too, whether you are celebrating Matariki, Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice, or just another day.