The Woodland Cree have a way of marking the seasons that is unique, and which reflects the yearly cycle in a northern land of lakes and rivers. Two extra seasons have been added to the yearly calendar to reflect the yearly freezing and melting of the waterways.
Break up is the season when the ice finally comes off the lakes, and freeze up is when the water freezes due to the increasingly cold weather. Although there is ice for most of both of these seasons, travel is difficult and somewhat dangerous because it is either melting or not fully formed.
As a people who depended on the lakes and rivers for their livelihood and trade network, the Woodland Cree needed to be able to describe the seasonal changes in their homeland.
Today, people in Northern Saskatchewan generally have adopted this way of describing the seasons. This way spring comes in March and winter does not arrive until January!
The Woodland Cree had names for the twelve moon cycles (or months) of the year as well. Here are the names of the months and descriptions:
Lac La Ronge Indian Band Education Branch 1985
|January - Opawuhchukunises - Frost - Exploding Trees - Moon - In deep winter, trees burst as their sap freezes. This makes sounds almost like gunshots on cold winter nights.|
|February - Kisepesim - The Great Moon - The coldest and most wind still time of year when hunting is difficult.|
|March - Mikisewipesim - The Eagle Moon - The month when the eagles return.|
|April - Niskipesim - The Goose Moon - The month when the geese return.|
|May - Uthekipesim - The Frog Moon - The month when the frogs come out.|
|June - Opiniyawipesim - The Egg Laying Moon - The month when the birds lay eggs.|
|July - Opuskowipesim - The Moulting Moon - The month when the young birds get their feathers.|
|August - Ohpuhowipesim - The Flying Up Moon - The month when the young birds are trying their new wings and practicing flying.|
|September - Onimituhumowipesim - The Mating Moon - The month when the moose are in rut.|
|October - Opimuhumowipesim - The Migrating Moon - The month when birds are migrating.|
|November - Kuskutinowipesim - The Freeze Up Moon - The month when the lakes freeze over.|
|December - Thithikopewipesim - The Frost Moon - A cold, frosty month.|