Origins of the Wuwuchim Ceremony

Published on August 4, 2011 by Amy

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Wuwuchim Ceremony
Wuwuchim Ceremony

The ceremony takes place in November and lasts for 16 days. It is among several ceremonies that the Hopi Indians of Arizona celebrate. The purpose of the Wuwuchim is to mark the beginning of the new ceremonial year in the Hopi calendar. In other words, this is like the Hopi New Year celebration.

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The name is believed to come from the Hopi word wuwutani, which means “to grow up.” It is also a time when the young men are initiated into the sacred societies that oversee all the Hopi ceremonies throughout the year.

The tribal elders will close off all roads leading to the pueblo. All fires are extinguished. The women and children stay indoors.

The initiation ceremony takes place in the kiva (see below) where the adolescent boys are gathered and participate in secret ceremonies that introduce them to the Hopi religious customs and beliefs. Not only are visitors are not allowed to view this part of the ceremony; but, even other tribal members are not allowed to see these initiation rites take place. So the initiation ceremony is overseen by a tribal chief who impersonates Masau’u, the Hopi God of Death and the ruler of the underworld.

After the boys have gone through their initiation, they are treated as adults and allowed to dance as Katchinas (see below) in all other Hopi ceremonies throughout the rest of the year. Wuwuchim is therefore essential tot he continuing cycle of Hopi ceremonial life.

The kindling of the new fire (see below) is the first ritual that takes place during the Wuwuchim. Other tribes observe this ritual around the time of the winter solstice, but the Hopi use it as the start of their Wuwuchim showing it’s importance as a symbol of the start of the new Hopi year. As the ceremony comes to an end, there are prayers, songs and dances designed to ensure the safety and success of the Hopi people in the coming year.

Source: brownielocks Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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