Christmas in Hawaii – Mele Kalikimaka

Mele Kalikimaka

Merry Christmas in Hawaiian

Ancient Hawaiians observed Makahiki, a four-month celebration around the winter solstice that was a time to thank the gods for the food drawn from the land and sea. At the heart of the festival was the god Lono, who represented fertility and growth. His image in the form of a tiki was carried throughout the islands. The modern Hawaiian Christmas is a mix of traditions brought by 18th century explorers and missionaries.

mele kalikimaka merry christmas in hawaii

Like the Celtic tribes of northern Europe, who celebrated “Yule” “Feast” or “Wheel”, Hawaiians recognized the significance of the winter solstice and had a pretty lengthy party.

During Makahiki, it was forbidden for warriors of rival clans to go to sea in war canoes. This ensured that the time could be spent in peaceful celebrations. The Western version of the holidays came to Hawaii on December. 25, 1786. The British ship Queen Charlotte was anchored off present-day Waimea, on the west side Kauai. This was eight years after Captain James Cook had come into Waimea Bay and “discovered” what he would call the Sandwich Islands.

The missionaries who arrived in 1820 had a more restrained view of Christmas and did not organize active celebrations for several years. But as other branches of Protestant evangelists, along with Catholic priests, arrived in the islands, the various traditions of Christmas became known.

Perhaps the most famous Hawaiian Christmas song performed by Bing Crosby.

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Posted by on December 14, 2010. Filed under CRITTER TALK. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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3 Responses to Christmas in Hawaii – Mele Kalikimaka

  1. mbarnato

    December 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    A four-month celebration? I like the sound of that…especially if we’re celebrating in Hawaii!

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  3. Gwendolyn H. Barry

    December 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Yes yes… Maui and deep sea angling and cold cold brew and praising the Ancestors. I’m all for it!
    Thanks for this Holte.