Top 5 Ways Christmas in Hawaii is totally Unique
Before 1786 Christmas was not celebrated in Hawaii. Instead Hawaiians had “Makahiki” an all-winter long celebration where “good deeds” and “total peace” were encouraged. It also included many festivities and games.
Fast forward about a hundred years and you have King Kamehameha IV declaring December 25 and official holiday; and erecting the first Christmas tree at the Royal Court. At first titled “Thanksgiving Day”, it wouldn’t become Christmas as we know it until 1862.
Given this unique history, its no surprise Christmas in Hawaii has always had its own special twist. If you’re not familiar with Hawaiian Christmas, here are some ways that make Christmas time on the islands an experience all on its own:
- Santa Claus arrives in a canoe and not in a sleigh.
In Hawaii, Santa arrives in a canoe being hauled by dolphins rather than reindeer. And compared to our traditional image of Santa, Hawaiian Santa is very laid back. He wears typical Hawaiian clothes, unzips his snowsuit to relax, and even likes to surf once in a while.
- Christmas is spent on the beach, not in the snow. Fantastic, warm weather is the norm in Hawaii during Christmas time. And many locals spend Christmas day on the beach building sandmen and sand angels. While yet many others have picnics or family cookouts as well.
- Traditional decorating is a little bit different. Christmas decorations are everywhere! Even Palm Trees are covered in lights from top to bottom. And rather than craft flowers, Poinsettias, the “Christmas Star”, grow on the Hawaiian hillside during the winter time. Making for a truly festive landscape.
- You can enjoy the festivities without freezing to death. Honolulu City Hall is home to annual Christmas light displays, parades and festivals. Featuring a glorious, decked out, 50 foot Norfolk Pine Tree. All this outdoor fun and more can be enjoyed without the freezing cold weather everybody else has to deal with. And although not necessary, you can still walk around sipping traditional Hot Cocoa.
- You’ll hear plenty of Bing Crosby and less of Frank Sinatra. Mele Kalikimaka! It means “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian. And its also a song made in the 40s and 50s that completely embodies the Hawaiian Christmas Spirit. Covered by Bing Crosby and many other artists throughout the decades, it still tops the list of holiday tunes in Hawaii.