Legend – Hawaii

Maui Legend “Why we have summer and winter”

Like the other Maui legend “how Hawaii Mountains were formed”, Ryan told me that he learned this legend at age five while living in Hawaii. He told me that he still heard it told around Hawaii although with several variations from his own account.

The legend goes like this; Long ago, there was a god called Sun who lived in the skies above Hawaii.  Sun used to come out of the skies everyday of the year projecting unbearable heat towards the people on the Island. People asked Sun to decrease on the heat but he never did and instead continued burning them throughout the year. The people gathered around to discuss and find solution to the problem. They chose Maui, the strongest man around, to face Sun and plead with him. Maui, with a net his hands, went to talk to Sun at a place where he came out of the skies. He told him that the people on the Island were fed up of his heat. Sun just laughed and went on to release heat as he always had been doing. In anger, Maui tossed his net to the sky and trapped Sun. He started pulling him down towards the Island. Sun retaliated by holding onto the sky but was soon defeated by Maui. Scared of the Island people he had heated for a long time, Sun pleaded with Maui asking him to not drag him down. Maui accepted his requested but on condition that he (Sun) would only come out of the skies for half of the year. In considerable grief, Sun accepted the conditions and from that day on, he only came out of the skies for half the year. That is why we have summer and winter.


When Ryan told me this legend, it really made little or no sense to me. Of course the sun does not speak and on one can pull it down with a hook. But again, I remembered it was only a legend! The question I asked myself was, “why is this legend existing?”  The answer I came up with is, because it has a social significance. In a historical context, the legend teaches Hawaiians (or any other passive and active bearer or the legend) about the origin of the Island since Maui discovered the Island. On the other hand, because the legend is known by a certain group of people, it means the legend creates a social identity. It does that by creating the “other.” In this context, the “other” would be those people who are neither passive nor active bearers of the legend. In essence, just being able to learn, understand, and tell the legend can separate a Hawaiian from a non-Hawaiian.

In a way, I also think the legend is meant to credit a “man” with creation. By doing so, the legend some how glorifies a man’s strength and creates a patriarchy. I know one might disagree with me, but they should ask themselves why one would credit the creation of seasons (with all their importance) to a man and not a man and a woman.  Masculine dominance must be behind all this.