Treat yourself and the grandchildren to a cultural New Year celebration this year — one of the big benefits of living in Hawai‘i.

Japanese Mochitsuki

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Courtesy of Shimbashi Izakaya Restaurant, San Diego

Mochitsuki is a Japanese New Year tradition of getting together to make ceremonial mochi. Ancient Japanese warlords with the most laborers and rice won wars, so rice came to signify power. Pounding turns sticky Mochi rice into a tough, elastic paste, teaches us that when we stick together, we are strong. Rice also nurtures and fills the belly.

Mochitsuki begins with soaking rice overnight, cooking slowly and pounding by hand to a paste. Pounding hot mochi rice takes at least two persons: One slings a huge wood mallet; another reaches in with a wet hand to turn the hot sticky rice wad before the mallet strikes. Ouch! Everyone joins in the fun of rolling pieces of dough into large and small patties. A few are eaten — most are placed joyfully in the home for a blessing of strength and prosperity for the coming year New Year.

Rev. Shinkai Murakami at Wailuku Hongwanji Mission, Maui, invites the public to Mochitsuki on Dec. 27. Pre-ordered mochi patties may be picked up on December 28. For further information call 808-244-0406.

Hawaiian Makahiki Games

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Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort

Makahiki celebrates the new annual cycle with ceremonies over a period of four months. Breaking of a coconut shell in October starts the kahuna vigil for the appearance of Na Hiku o Makali‘i, or Pleiades constellation on the eastern horizon at sunset. On the following new moon, Ku retires from the heiau and Lono reigns — a god of peace, fertility and winter rains. War is prohibited, certain kapu are lifted and routine work ceases. While Lono softens the soil for spring planting, fishing kapu allow winter varieties and big projects are undertaken: repairing heiau, building canoes or digging new ‘auwai (irrigation ditches).

Harvest and handiwork were received by the King’s entourage, who traveled clockwise around each island. Every ahupua‘a celebrated with a merry feast and competitive games, like ‘ulu maika (lawn bowling), ‘o ‘o (spear throwing), hukihuki (tug of war) and ke‘apua (dart thowing).

The public is invited to Turtle Bay Resort’s Makahiki Kuilima on Jan. 17, 2015. For details, call 808-293-6000.

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