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Christmas in Hawaii Traditions

June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.

hawaii-christmas

Snow or Not ~ It's Christmas in Hawaii

Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaiian for Merry Christmas.

Christmas traditions in Hawaii are very unique, as there is no one tradition. On all of the islands, there is a merging of many different nationalities that over the years have melded the dividing lines together.

Out of this poi bowl, or melting pot, of different nationalities we have emerged and gained many different and unique Christmas traditions. Many of us can't even remember what it was like to have just one Christmas tradition in Hawaii if there ever was one.

Nothing in Hawaii can really be claimed as traditional because of this blending which makes for a wonderful and colorful way to celebrate. My own family is a good example of this as we are a combination of Hawaiian, Haole, Filipino, Chinese and Japanese all mixed together.

Hele on (come along) with me to get a feel of what it is like to have Christmas in Hawaii.

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas in Hawaii-kids paddling canoe on Christmas day in Hawaii

Christmas in Hawaii-kids paddling canoe on Christmas day in Hawaii

It Snows in Hawaii?

The Island of Hawaii, better known as the Big Island, is the largest island in the Hawaiian Islands chain.

When you think of Christmas in Hawaii, probably the first thing that comes to your mind is warm weather, lots of sunshine, palm trees swaying in the breeze and frolicking on beautiful white sandy beaches.

I can bet that the last thing that comes to mind when thinking of a Christmas vacation in Hawaii is snow on the ground or chestnuts roasting over an open fire in the fireplace.

Believe it or not, we do have snow on the Big Island of Hawaii during the Christmas season. You have to drive a distance to get to it, but we do have snow in Hawaii!

hawaii-christmas

No Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire In Hawaii for Christmas

North of Kailua-Kona, in the Waimea-Kamuela-Kohala area, it does get a might bit chillier than Kona, during the Christmas season. Some say that it gets downright cold if you consider the mid 40's to mid 50's cold.

Cold in Kohala is nothing like cold in the northern regions of the mainland, though, but cold enough that some of the homes in this northern part of the island are equipped with fireplaces and potbelly stoves.

However, you won't find anyone roasting chestnuts over their open fires. Maybe kukui nuts, or macadamia nuts, but not chestnuts. Chestnuts are not grown in Hawaii; nor is holly or mistletoe.

For the most part, at sea level, Hawaii is on average a balmy 86 degrees most everywhere else during the Christmas season and all year long. Except for.....

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Mauna Kea ~ The Snow Topped Volcano - Tropical Storms Bring Snow to Mauna Kea

Christmas in Hawaii with Snow on Top of Mauna Kea

Christmas in Hawaii with Snow on Top of Mauna Kea

Winter Snowboarding in Hawaii on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii

Marty Snowboarding Mauna Kea Hawaii

Marty Snowboarding Mauna Kea Hawaii

Winter on Top of Mauna Kea - Hawai'i Snowboarder

Forest Light Murphy Shaka Brah on the Slopes Mauna Kea Volcano on Big Island of Hawaii

Forest Light Murphy Shaka Brah on the Slopes Mauna Kea Volcano on Big Island of Hawaii

Snowboarder Nyree on Mauna Kea - Photography by Sparky Leigh

Snowboarder Nyree Sails Past Me with a Smile. Mauna Kea - Big Island of Hawaii

Snowboarder Nyree Sails Past Me with a Smile. Mauna Kea - Big Island of Hawaii

I had never seen the snow fall until I was 35 years old and went to Colorado. When you live in Kona you don't ever seem to be on the top of Mauna Kea when it is snowing. When you wake up in the morning and see there are snow caps on Mauna Kea, that is when you make ready for the long drive to go up the mountain to play in it.

Incidentally, Mauna Kea, at over 19,000 feet above sea level and over 33,000 feet for the whole mountain, is the tallest mountain in the world, taller than Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. The elevation above sea level tends to fluctuate according to the ocean levels. The ocean is lower now than it was in the past. Global warming????

Because it does take a few hours to drive to the summit, often when you get there the snow has turned to ice because of the sun beating down on it, making skiing impossible.

Every now and then, when we've had a particularly heavy storm, there will be flooding at sea level. Then the snow at the summit will be deep enough and the high altitude weather cold enough, to ski or snowboard. The snow has to be very deep to ski, however. If it is not, it is not safe. The lava rock, when covered with snow can be deceiving, and has been the ruin of many vacations when skiers run into the rocks thinking they are snow drifts.

For our family, none of us knew how to ski. We would go up mauka (up the mountain) to play in the snow. We would build snowmen, have snowball fights and go "sledding" down the mountain on flattened cardboard boxes, paipo boards, bogey boards, or inner tubes. Anything that's available! Good fun!!

Nowadays many of our surfers have turned snowboarders when the snow is flying. If I was still young that is exactly what I would be doing too! Whoohoo!

Back then, when we grew weary of the cold, the lunch we had packed was eaten, and the cocoa and coffee were gone, we would fill the ice cooler with snowballs and back down the mountain we would go to Hapuna Beach.

The closer we would get to the beach the more layers of clothing were removed. By the time we arrived at Hapuna we were all in our swim suits throwing snowballs on the beach!

One Big Hawaiian Bradda Throwing Snowballs On the Beach

One Big Hawaiian Man Throwing a Snowball on the Beach

One Big Hawaiian Man Throwing a Snowball on the Beach

Tossing a Ball at Hapuna Beach

Tossing Ball on Hapuna Beach

Tossing Ball on Hapuna Beach

This is the beach where we would go to throw the snowballs at our cousins, after leaving the top of Mauna Kea.

Mele Kalikimaka from the Best Shave Ice in Kona

This video was shot in Kailua-Kona at the little beach across the street from The Scandinavian Shave Ice shop on Ali'i Drive in Kona.

Look at what the girls are throwing on the beach - woohoo! Looks like snow from Mauna Kea, but it's Shave Ice from the Scandinavian Shave Ice store. Just their way of saying Mele Kalikimaka!

Christmas in Hawaii

Bringing Home the Christmas Tree

Hawaiian Christmas Cards  - Surfing Holidays by Eddy Yamamoto

Hawaiian Christmas Cards - Surfing Holidays by Eddy Yamamoto

Cutting or Buying a Christmas Tree in Hawaii

If you live in the big city of Honolulu on Oahu, more than likely you will buy a tree that has been shipped in from the mainland or from one of the Christmas tree farms from one of the outer islands. We grow our own trees on some farms on the Big Island, on Maui and Kaua'i.

The favorite imported trees are the blue spruce and the Douglas fir, but many of us grow our own trees right in our own yards. The only time I remember ever buying a tree was when I was living on Oahu for school. Usually we would go up mauka (into the mountains) and cut a tree. There are many different varieties of pine growing in Hawaii, especially in Kohala on th Big Island. Most of the time we were very lucky and would find a wonderful, fragrant tree to bring home. Douglas firs are my favorite, but the Colorado Blue Spruce is easier to find

Waimanalo, Oahu Christmas Tree Farm

Waimanalo, Oahu Christmas Tree Farm

Norfolk pines from Australia grow prolifically on the Big Island. It's always easy to find one of them, but we would usually pass them by unless it was our only choice. They are not very pretty (too symmetrical for my taste); their pine needles are very waxy, looking artificial; and they don't have any scent. In fact, they do look like artificial trees and they do last forever, though, just like an artificial tree!

I have had good luck rooting them and replanting after the holidays. You know what that means, though, don't you? Another tree to decorate in the backyard next year! Woohoo!

The people of Hawaii are very creative and can come up with many different ideas not only for decorating the trees but also for the trees themselves. We will decorate the coconut trees, the palm trees, the mango trees, the banana trees, the avocado trees, the kiawe trees, the kukui nut trees - it doesn't matter. If you have a tree or a bush growing in your yard, "we going decorate it"!

Poinsettias - Captain Cook, Kona Hawaii

hawaii-christmas

Poinsettias grow wild along the Kona Coast and starting in October is when they begin their color change. By the time Christmas rolls around they are in full bloom.

It is difficult to tell in the photo, but these poinsettias are rather old plants and are actually trees and not close to the ground plants.

Poinsettia Christmas Tree - Hapuna Hawaii

Poinsettia Christmas Tree - Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Poinsettia Christmas Tree - Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

The is a Christmas tree made entirely out of Poinsettia plants. I think Bill Adams took this photo at one of the resort hotels in Kawaihae, by Hapuna Beach, but I'm not sure.

On Oahu, the Kahala Sheraton builds a poinsettia tree in their lobby every Christmas.

Hawaii-lauhala-christmas-ornaments

Hawaii-lauhala-christmas-ornaments

Decorating the Christmas Tree in Hawaii

I love Christmas! I love the lights and the decorations. Living in Hawai'i, there is such a diverse mixture of cultures that have migrated from every part of the world, that the decorations have taken on many creative twist and turns. They range from traditional to the bazaar and everything in between.

All of these differences continue to meld into unique and beautiful creations where cultural lines are so mixed it is difficult to tell where one begins and ends. It all mixes together to just be called "local style". And what exactly is "local style"? It's whatever the local people of Hawai'i are doing. It's a conglomeration of everything "local" and this is never more evident than at Christmas.

As we say in Hawaii in our own Pigeon English, "Eh, bra, it's like what eva you like do is o.k. by me. Ain't no big ting!"


Miniature Hawaii Christmas Tree - Woven with Lauhala

Miniature Lauhala Ornament Hawaii Christmas Tree

Miniature Lauhala Ornament Hawaii Christmas Tree

This sweet miniature Hawaii Christmas tree has been decorated with tiny woven lauhala ornaments.

Mele Kalikimaka by Jimmy Buffett

Homemade Star Fish Christmas Ornament

Homemade Star Fish Christmas Ornament

Seashell Themed Christmas Trees

I have had many a seashell themed Christmas tree in Hawaii. I decorated the trees with seashells, starfish, opihi shells, sand dollars, sea urchin shells and sea urchin quills that I had found on the beach and crafted into Christmas tree ornaments.

A miniature tree decorated with tiny seashells and tiny starfish make a great accent piece for a guest room, a dining room table centerpiece or a bathroom.

Seashells may not be readily available where you live. If that is the case, you can still create a lovely seashell themed tree by purchasing shells on eBay or at your local craft store and make them yourself. You can also buy them at any number of places on the Internet.

Hawaiian Hand Quilted & Hand Appliqued Christmas Tree Skirt

Hawaiian quilting is all appliqued by hand as is the quilting. All of the stunning patterns are created from flowers, trees and plants in nature which grow in the islands. The quality of the designs comes more from the spirit of the islands than it does from the painstaking intrigue stitches of the quilter.

The quality of the designs comes more from the spirit of the islands than it does from the painstaking intrigue stitches of the quilter.

In today's world, the Hawaiian quilting techniques have migrated to the creation of Christmas tree skirts and Christmas stockings.

The skirt featured on the right was inspired by the red hibiscus flowers which are so popular in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Quilt Christmas Stockings

Hawaiian Quilt Christmas Stockings

Honolulu City Lights Has Been Celebrating Christmas for the Last 26 Years - Notice Mrs. Claus in Her Muumuu and Santa Saying "Shaka Bradda"!

hawaii-christmas

Honolulu City Lights Christmas Tree at Night

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Honolulu City Lights Christmas Tree During the Day

hawaii-christmas

Santa's Making His Rounds in Hawai'i Arrives in Waikiki

Every year you will see Santa making his rounds from one island to the next, but you will seldom see him in a traditional red velvet Santa suit except at the mall. Otherwise, Santa is traveling Hawaiian style. When visiting the Hawaiian state he dresses in casual clothing for the beautiful sunshine weather.

Sometimes you'll see him wearing Hawaiian-style surfer jam aloha print shorts and sometimes palaka style shorts. Sometimes he'll be wearing a Hawaiian palaka shirt with aloha print shorts.

Sometimes you will see him in a Santa suit jacket and palaka shorts. You never know what you will see Santa wearing when you catch him visiting.

Santa Gets a Warm Welcome in Waikiki

Yee Haw! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas-in-Hawaii-Santa-riding-dolphin

Christmas-in-Hawaii-Santa-riding-dolphin

Santa Claus Wears Palaka Shorts and Rubber Slippers When Visiting in Hawaii!

Often you can see yard displays of Santa wearing an aloha shirt, palaka (red & white plaid broadcloth fabric) shorts or Hawaiian print shorts and rubber slippers (flip flops), sitting in a canoe on the lawn. Dolphins are substituted for the reindeer and Menehunes are substituted for the elves!

In Honolulu, there are usually big displays of Santa with Mrs Claus wearing their aloha attire. Santa in his aloha shirt and Mrs. Claus wearing her aloha print muumuu.

Santa with His "Sleigh" in Kailua-Kona Village on the Big Island

Christmas- in Hawaii - Santa with his sleigh

Christmas- in Hawaii - Santa with his sleigh

Take notice of the "antlers" on Santa's headlights, his sandals and palaka (broad print cloth) shorts!

Santa's in Hawaii and Getting Ready to Ride - Santa's getting ready to cruise!

Christmas in Hawaii - Santa wearing shorts

Christmas in Hawaii - Santa wearing shorts

Let's Take A Break For A Little Christmas Fun

Sing-a-Long to the Numbah One Day of Christmas

Let's Listen to da "Numbah One Day of Christmas" ~ Local style ~ Pidgin English ~ "12 Days of Christmas". Listen once den hana hou (play it again) and sing along with da braddas!

You can go find da kine lyrics below.

Da Kine Lyrics to "Numbah One Day of Christmas" - Hawaiian Style "12 Days of Christmas"

Go ahead and gather the keikis (kids) to Sing-a-Long to da Hawai'ian "Numbah One Day of Christmas" .

It'll be fun! Go ahead. You know you want too!

  1. Numbah One day of Christmas, my tutu give to me One mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  2. Numbah Two day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Two coconut, an' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  3. Numbah Tree day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  4. Numbah Foah day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  5. Numbah Five day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  6. Numbah Seex day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  7. Numbah Seven day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  8. Numbah Eight day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  9. Numbah Nine day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  10. Numbah Ten day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Ten can of beer, nine pound of poi, eight ukuklele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  11. Numbah Eleven day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Eleven missionary, ten can of beer, nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.
  12. Numbah Twelve day of Christmas, my tutu give to me Twelve television, eleven missionary, ten can of beer, nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree!

Music and Dance in the Hawaiian Islands is an Important Part of Our Hawai'ian Culture

The Joyous Sound of the 'Ukulele by Peggy Chun

The Joyous Sound of the 'Ukulele by Peggy Chun

Music and dance are a huge part of our lives in Hawai'i, and the spirit of Christmas goes hand-in-hand with the spirit of aloha. The people of Hawai'i have sweet and loving natures with hearts as large as the ocean that surrounds this small, but magical island chain.

All of the traditional Christmas carols have been translated into the Hawai'ian language, but the Hawai'ians did not stop there. Hawai'ian Christmas music continues to be created every Christmas season.

The music is so beautiful and heartfelt it will bring tears to your eyes when you feel the deep emotion within the music and are able to witness the beauty of the hula that accommodates the music. Hula is the essence of the spirit of aloha and the spirit (mana) of Hawaii.