The Tradition Of Hawaii’s November Feast

Island Feast

The rising of Makaliʻi at sunset marks the beginning of the Hawaiian new year, known as Makahiki. Makahiki usually begins mid-November and ends in late January or February, aligning with the rainy season. It is a time set aside for tribute, harvest, sport, and play.

The word makahiki can refer to a time of celebration, the ceremonies and activities observed during this particular time of year, or a complete calendar year. Traditionally for Hawaiians, our calendar year is divided into two seasons, Kau and Hoʻoilo. The month of ʻIkuā, which means “noisy,” usually begins in September or October. This month is characterized by roaring surf, thunderstorms, and rain. This boisterous personality of ʻIkuā signaled the approach of Makahiki.

The roughly four-month period of Makahiki was a time of peace and plenty, relaxation and games, and for harvest. During Makahiki, the qualities of Lono were celebrated by feasting, competing in sport and games, hula and storytelling.

The fine art piece listed above is titled Island Feast by Eugene Savage. This fine art piece depicts a traditional Hawaiian feast filled with the traditional dance of hula, and various fruits composed by Ali’i chiefs and Maka Ainana.

Eugene Francis Savage

Eugene Francis Savage was an American painter and sculptor known for his murals in the manner made official under the Works Projects Administration. He also is known for his work on the Bailey Fountain in Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York and the ‘Alma Mater’ mural featured in the Sterling Memorial Library on the campus of Yale University located in New Haven, CT.

 In 1938 the Matson Lines commissioned him to paint murals depicting native Hawaiian life, which were later adapted for menus and other memorabilia.

It is estimated that over a quarter million Eugene Savage menu covers were distributed between 1948 and 1956. Commissioned by the Matson Navigation Company to create a series of murals in 1938.  Eugene painted murals depicting native Hawaiian life, which were later adapted for menus and other memorabilia. Eugene Savage completed the task in 1940. Due to the outbreak of World War II, his bold paintings lied in Matson’s basement until 1948. Afterwards, they were reproduced as menu covers for the S.S. Lurline. In 1951, Savage’s genius was honored in American Lithographs at the Smithsonian Institute. His beautiful menu covers are highly prized by collectors of Hawaiian ephemera.

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