Aloha Authentic: Hawaiian moon calendar

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — We all make use of our islands’ roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to the given names?  

Do you know the meaning of the street you live on? 

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Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlighted various roadways around the islands and dug into their given names and as a result, learned more about Hawaiʻi’s history. We brought focus to a street that invites us to look up into the sky.

In the ahupuaʻa of Kēōkea, which lies in the moku of Kula on the island of Maui, is a street named after the object that dictates the Hawaiian calendar: Mahina Street.

In the Hawaiian language, the word mahina can be translated as “moon or month.”  To Native Hawaiians, their calendar is based on the appearance of the moon rather than the motion of the planet around the sun.

The Hawaiian moon calendar consists of 12 lunar months, and each month is made up of 29 and a half days. The approximately 30-day-month is broken into three 10-day periods called Anahulu

In essence, a Hawaiian week.

The first anahulu is called Hoʻonui, which means “to enlarge.” This period identifies the moonʻs initial waxing phases. The second anahulu is called Poepoe, meaning round and signaling its rounded phases — including the full moon.

Finally, the last anahulu is called Hōʻemi, which means “to diminish,” referring to the moon’s waning phases.

Aside from measuring time, the moon also served as an almanac for farmers, a tide chart for fishermen and a spiritual guide for priests.  

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