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 Connect with Mi'kmaw Moons

Tantallon Public Library 

 Saturday, 27 September 10:30–11:30 a.m.

all ages, family event

How did the Mi'kmaq note the passage of time using the cycle of the Moon and natural events such as the running of maple sap and the croaking of the frogs? Youngsters will enjoy a turtle-rattle craft while the others learn how to recognize lunar features. We will wrap up with a Mi’kmaw friendship chant. Join your hosts Cathy LeBlanc of Acadia First Nation and Dave Chapman of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

More information on the project:

This presentation—prepared for children and adults—is part of an ongoing project by Cathy and Dave to investigate the traditional time-keeping customs of the Mi’kmaw nation, before contact with Europeans. Much of this knowledge—handed down by oral tradition—has been lost over the ensuing four centuries. Today, thanks to research by Cheryl Bartlett and others at Cape Breton University, the names of the moon-times have been resurrected and applied to the 12 months of the Gregorian Calendar—but there is more to the story! Twelve synodic months of 29.5 days (Full Moon to Full Moon) only adds up to 354 days, 11 days short of a solar year. Each year, the Moon phases occur about 11 days earlier than the last. This is not a problem in itself, but for one fact: most of the 12 Mi’kmaw moon names refer to seasonally specific environmental events, such as the running of the maple sap, frogs croaking, moose calling, and so on. If one simply applied the 12 names in succession, by rote, the moon names would quickly become out of synchronization with the seasons.

It is as if the lunar clock is ticking faster than the solar clock. This problem occurs throughout the world, and the typical solution is to insert a 13th moon name every two or three years, to keep moons in line with the Sun. These luni-solar calendars are widespread, and there is reference to them in the anthropological literature,specifically in relation to the North American aboriginals.



Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 September 2014 15:35 )
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