It may be the middle of winter, and the weather might not be playing nicely, but Matariki gives us something to celebrate at this coldest time of the year.
And this year, for the first time, we have a public holiday to celebrate this amazing time of year.
If that’s not a good excuse for a get-together with friends and family, then what is?
So, what is Matariki and what does it mean for your family? Well, for one, it’s a great opportunity to start some new traditions. And what better way to do that than gathering for some delicious kai!
Read on to find out a little bit more about Matariki and some cool ways to celebrate.
Celebrating Matariki The Kiwi Mediterranean Way
What Is Matariki?
Matariki is the name given to a cluster of stars, also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. It appears in the early morning during mid-winter right here in Aotearoa. It is one of the brightest clusters in the sky.
It is known as the Maori New Year and is closely linked with the Maori lunar calendar.
Matariki is celebrated sometime between late May and early July, depending on when the stars are set to appear. At the close of one year and the start of another, Maori come together to:
- Remember those who have been lost since the stars last rose
- Celebrate the present and give thanks for what is held
- Look to the future and what the new year will bring
Matariki is also closely linked with planting and harvesting - if the stars appear bright, it is said to signify an abundant year. So, with all this abundance, it is the perfect time to celebrate and be thankful with your family and friends, regardless of your heritage.
5 Ways To Make Matariki A Tradition In Your Home
1: Have A Big Family Feast
The best way to mark Matariki is to come together for a family meal. Bring your family and friends together in your home and share some good food. You can, of course, lay a hangi or whip up some traditional Maori kai. But, any tasty food will do the trick!
Lebanese and Mediterranean food has some fantastic options for feeding a large crowd. From dips, breads and platters to share, to warming dishes of flavoursome chicken and vegetarian options, there’s something for everyone. We’ve even got dessert covered with dreamy olive oil cake or grilled honey figs.
Our well-stocked shop has everything you need to create your Matariki feast from all-purpose spice Za’atar, yummy dips and delicious breads. And if you are stuck for recipes, check out our recipe page and blog for ideas.
Or, for something different, prepare a meal with elements of a hangi. Meat like beef and veggies like potatoes, kumara and pumpkin form the main meal. Then add steamed pudding for dessert.
As Matariki is all about celebrating life, take some time during your meal to remember friends and family who can’t be there and raise a glass or share a story about them.
2: Set Some Goals
We are used to setting New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, so why not have a second chance at making a change and set some goals at mid-winter too. It’s the perfect time to set a goal or maybe create a challenge you’d like to do as a family.
You might even choose to set yourself a food-orientated goal - challenge yourself to try some new foods or foods from around the world. Pick a different cuisine each month and create a dish from it. Start with Lebanese food (obviously) and taste the fresh flavours. Dishes like hummus and pita are easy to make, and you can get the whole family involved in making them.
3: Plant Something
Matariki is linked to the new season of planting and harvesting, so why not start your own veggie garden? Veggie gardens don’t have to be huge - a small container garden could be used to grow a few choices or salad plants, and herbs can be grown in pots around the garden.
If veggies aren’t your thing, then how about some fruit trees or native NZ plants?
4: Do Some Stargazing
Winter is the perfect time for stargazing! The night sky is inky black early in the evening and the stars seem to shine so much brighter. Rug up warm, head outside in the evening and see which stars you can spot. Or, if you feel like being an early riser, set your alarm and see if you can spot the Matariki cluster itself.
5: Learn Some Te Reo
While you may not become fluent over Matariki you could start your Te Reo journey by learning some simple words and phrases. There are lots of online resources that will help you. And, if you make it a goal to learn a little bit more each year, you’ll soon build up a set of phrases.
Matariki is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate your friends, family and everything you are grateful for. And, what better way to do that than organise a gathering with delicious food.