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Taíno New Year 2024

"New Year" for our ancestors was more than a day, in contrast to the way more contemporary people understand it.

Taino New Year is the beginning of a cycle of birth marked by the Spring Equinox. This cycle continues into May when the rains reach a peak intensity around the 21st of that month. This is a day some of us identify as Sirik.

It was noted by early chroniclers that the largest areito were held on the Spring Equinox. This is because it comes at the end of one of two the "dry seasons" and marks the coming of the rains. In other words, the Spring Equinox is a solar astronomical phenomenon that is a very specific precursor of what is going to start to take place in April and then will intensify in May. This is why the Spring Equinox is crucial in a ceremonial sense.

In the Caribbean, the first "dry season" takes place in July and the other from December through March. These periods interrupt the growing season so faster growing crops are planted usually from April through June. This early early-season harvest supports later-season crops, which are grown from August through November.

In addition, the Spring Equinox, as the beginning of the New Year ceremonial season, also alerts us to another phenomenon that is well known in the Caribbean - the hurricane season. This is why the end of the New Year observances, Sirik, which occurs in May, is important because hurricane season in the Caribbean usually begins in June through November.

Spring Equinox is the Equinox signaling the return of the rains after the longer drier period and alerts us to the coming season of hurricanes. These are the reasons why it was the largest areito and why we identify it as the beginning of the Taino New Year cycle.

In closing, both occurrences of the Equinox and Solstice are important and this is why ceremonial areito observances were held year-round. However, we need to look at our socio-ceremonial calendar as a whole cyclical system. There is is a beginning and end to those sacred cycles annually. Spring Equinox is the beginning.

Happy New Year! Chali Buiú Ihuihua!

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