There is a lot of joy to experience right now in Pimachiowin Aki, including these celebrations:
1. Joyful Month – Kissing Month
As people gather for winter celebrations, they greet each other affectionately—with a handshake and a kiss on the cheek—so December is known as the joyful month and January is known as the kissing month. In Pauingassi First Nation, December includes a Christmas dinner for the entire community. There is a similar feast for the Bloodvein First Nation community, with each household receiving a turkey.
2. Winter Solstice
December 21 marks the day with the shortest period of daylight in 24 hours and the longest night of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), all thanks to the tilt of the earth.
This date also means that winter is officially here. In Anishinaabemowin, winter is called Beepoon. The December moon is called makoshkish giizis and is known as the joyful moon.
The colder, shorter days bring with it a peaceful silence, a kind of muffled quiet as you walk outdoors to gaze at the stars in the night sky. Enjoying a warm fire, being cozy under a blanket, ice-skating, playing hockey on the frozen lake, snowshoeing, tobogganing, and cross-country skiing are just some of the activities to look forward to as we celebrate the joys of winter.
3. Magu zhi giizhigan & O gen du giizhigan
Younger generations of Anishinaabeg follow the 12-month calendar, but Elders in Pimachiowin Aki used the seasons to measure the days. We followed the 13 moons, which meant 13 months of 28 days, explains Bloodvein First Nation Guardian, Melba Green. “They didn’t really have holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving,” she says. Today, many people in Pimachiowin Aki celebrate Christmas, known as Magu zhi giizhigan, and the New Year, known as O gen du giizhigan.