What is Christmas in Hawaii like? It sounds dreamy! Read all about what it’s like to celebrate Christmas when it feels like summer on the island.
Christmas in Hawaii
As a New Englander, I’ve always been intrigued by how the holidays are celebrated in less traditional “Norman Rockwellish” settings. Hawaii, in particular, fascinates me, since it is part of the United States, with all our traditions, but also carries the traditions of the native peoples, as well as strong influences from nearby cultures, such as that of Japan.
Mele Kalikimaka Christmas Song
I must admit most of my view of Christmas in Hawaii is probably strongly skewed by old Elvis movies and the Mele Kalikimaka Christmas song.
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say “Merry Christmas to you.”
Christmas Traditions in Hawaii
Hawaii has its own Christmas traditions. Just like in the contiguous United States, children go to sleep, looking forward to when Santa arrives.
But there are other traditions too.
The Festival of Makahiki
Before Christian missionaries arrived in 1820, natives on the island didn’t have a Christmas-type holiday. What they did have was 4 months at the end of the year when they celebrated the coming new year. This is called the festival of Makahiki, and it honors the god Lono.
Celebrations of Makahiki includes lots of sports (like surfing) and parties with hula dancing.
At the end of the celebrations, they filled a canoe with gifts and food and let it drift out to the ocean. These gifts were meant for Lono.
Hawaiian Versions of Christmas Celebrations
After the missionaries arrived, they brought with them the holiday of Christmas, celebrating the birth of God’s son. But there are still ways that Hawaiians remember their culture.
- Christmas carols sang in Hawaiin with ukeleles
- Christmas trees have to be imported
- Santa drives a canoe pulled by dolphins
Polynesian Holiday Food
Other than these seriously outdated visions, I as a foodie, I am familiar with lots of interesting Polynesian and sushi dishes featured in the area. I am sure many of these get an extra festive spin during the yuletide season.
One of these Christmases, I am going to book a Hawaiian trip and go visit the islands myself. There is nothing like experiencing holiday sushi washed down with a few Pineapple Bombs, gathering round the light wrapped palm tree & singing the song for oneself after all.
Are you in the mood for more Christmas fun? Here are some ideas to try with your family.