Rhonda Lee McIsaac
The winter solstice is upon us. The colder weather has resulted in clear skies at night punctuated by the stars that twinkle in the darkness of space. Xuuya Raven stole the light from his grandfather. Xuuya set the sun for daylight and released the stars and moon for night time.
The lunar cycle is measured from new kung moon to new kung within 29.5 days. The cycle includes seven different phases in that time. The winter full kung this month was on December 12 at 12:12 am. In Xaayda kil, the winter kung is called T’aaGaaw Kung Snow Moon. In the Haida calendar, this is a time when the food is almost gone, halibut begin to spawn, and fur seals can start to appear on the West Coast.
Xuuya released the moon in exchange for eulachons that he placed into the rivers on Haida Gwaii. In releasing the kung, Xuuya also created the seasons that are marked by solstices in each season.
Tomorrow is winter solstice, T’aaGaaw Kung 21, 2019. The shortest day and longest night this year, the JiiGawaay sun will rise at 8:50am and will set at 4:31pm. Solstice itself will happen at 8:19pm PST. It will be in a waning Kungsdapt’as crescent moon phase.
In keeping with the Earth’s rhythms and cycles, solstice is a time of rebirth and growth. We are reminded to take time for rest and reflection each month and in each season. Solstice is a time when the darkness gives way to light just like when Xuuya flew away from his grandfather’s longhouse with the light and brought its brilliance to the dark world. We too will see the beauty of our families, our lands, and waters.
To read more about Haida creation, see Swanton, John R., ed. Enrico, John. Skidegate Haida Myths and Histories, or Swanton, John R. Contributions to the Ethnology of the Haida.
This article includes select words in Xaayda kil.