Well, we have crossed the halfway mark in the year – and it is cold! Many cultures have ways of dealing with these cold times in the middle of winter. In Europe they had various festivals to mark “the turn of the year”. The harvests were all in and there was plenty of food, so they had feasts. The working days were short and the nights were long so they had gatherings to tell stories and remember their past. The Church took over some of these festivals and named it “Christmas”. When European settlers came to New Zealand they brought this with them but had to celebrate it in the opposite season when it warm and light.
Matariki is a Maori festival for mid-winter. Like its northern counter parts it is a time for gatherings, feasts, story-telling, and remembering. The service on Sunday will be centred round Matariki and we will explore in more detail its meaning and significance for us.
Next year it will be marked by a public holiday. There has been mixed reaction to this – usually in terms of its “economic impact”. But I think we need to remember that our ancestors got it right. Up till now there has been no official holiday between Queen’s Birthday and Labour weekend. It makes for a long winter! A celebration with a wide variety of activities in the darkness and cold of winter is good for us! We need the uplift of sharing meals, telling stories, singing and dancing, family gatherings and so on. So let’s begin to plan what we are going to do when Matariki becomes an official holiday next year!
See you on Sunday?