Midwinter Ceremonies begin on Thursday, January 26, 2-23. The time for this ceremony depends on several factors so it fluctuates year to year.

MBQ’s Community Language and Culture Coordinator, Luke Jeffries, provided the following information on this year’s ceremonies:

Anonhwaró:ri – Mid-Winter Ceremony

Whats it about?

Mid-winter is our Rotinonhsyón:ni New Year. It is a time of renewal for our people, renewal of thanksgiving for Creation and of our minds for the coming year. It is a time to remind us that we need to take care of ourselves and to take care of our responsibilities, and to entreat all of creation to continue their roles and responsibilities so that we can go on.

When does it happen?

Rotinonhsyón:ni people used to keep track of time by using the Lunar calendar. By this calendar we used to set our ceremonies, release the men for hunting, begin planting, and bring in the harvest. We also observe the position of tsyá:ta nihá:ti tehatinonnyáhkwa (Pleiades) in the night sky. It is said that when that ratinekwà:tara (constellation) is directly overhead then the countdown begins to put through midwinter ceremonies. In 2023, the dates are set for January 26-30 and each day begins at 9am.

What happens during midwinter?

There are several important things that happen during midwinter ceremonies.

In our community the first day is áhsen nikarén:nake ne ohstowa’kó:wa, where they sing the great feather dance three times. We sing this for the creator, as it is said its his favourite song.

The second day is for Tenhon’kenhrawénrye – stirring ashes. This is done to give thanks for the previous year and to renew our minds and responsibilities for the coming year.

The third day is for Kanahskwará:ken – white dog ceremony, Yethinisténha wenhitarátyes nok yotsistohkwahrónnyon – moon and stars, Atón:wa – mens chant, and finally yethihsenná:wis – naming. In the first ones, tobacco is burned to give thanks that things continue to be. Naming is something that is usually done for new children at this time.

On the fourth day it is usual that kayentowá:nen – peach stone game is played. The house is split between the two sides and they play against each other. The people are encouraged to bring an item to “bet” in the game, it is something that one cherishes most.

If it is necessary then there will be a fifth day set aside to put through Onehò:ren – drum dance.

Where does it happen?

We gather at Kanonhséshne (Longhouse at Ridge rd/Sadies Lane) to celebrate and renew ourselves during this time. All Onkwehón:we are encouraged to participate in the celebration and are welcome to attend longhouse. If you want to go, here are some things to remember: wear your traditional clothing if you have it, bring a feast basket for the daily feasts (eating utensils, plate, bowl, cups etc), it is also encouraged you bring something for the feast, usually our traditional foods. On the first day, men enter through the east door and women through the west door. Don’t be shy to ask someone if you have questions.

If you are still wary of public gatherings or would prefer to celebrate Midwinter on your own, some suggestions are to go outside and put tobacco down, or if possible, burn some, even inside on a stove in a pan or watch versions of the Thanksgiving Address on YouTube. Last year Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na Language and Cultural Centre shared Bear Fox’s song version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYxTGIp7SXc&t=50s as one that families might enjoy. They also shared information, put together by Tahohtharátye Brant, about other sacred ceremonies at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1e3gnec63BLssx54hObVOywdREOBxztTZ/view.

We are being reminded that this is a time of reverence, slow down, be with each other in family time and remember all that we have to be grateful for.

Please note, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Offices will be closed Friday, January 27, 2023 in recognition of these ceremonies. Quinte Mohawk School and all staff in QMS are recognizing this time on Monday, January 30, 2023.