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Mele Kalikimaka or Merry Christmas from Hawaii

Updated on October 7, 2015
Santa & Mrs. Santa in front of Honolulu Hale/City Hall
Santa & Mrs. Santa in front of Honolulu Hale/City Hall | Source

I grew up in Utah where we have four definite seasons. We lived down the canyon from the ski resorts, and even made igloos in the back yard during the winter.

When I first moved to Hawaii, my Christmas question was: "How does Santa get into the houses to deliver all the presents?", since most houses here in Hawaii do not have chimneys. The answer was quite simple. He enters through the door.

Of course, Santa comes on a surfboard to Hawaii rather than on a sleigh with reindeer.

We also have a diffferent way to say Merry Christmas. It is Mele Kalikimaka. You may have heard our Christmas song.

Mele Kalikimaka (Song Lyrics)

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

Mele Kalikimaka or Mele Kaliki Maka is a Christmas song sung as a warm greeting from Hawaii. It came from the Hawaiian pronunciation of “Merry Christmas”.

Since Hawaiian does not have all English phonemes, in particular the “R” and “S”, “Merry Christmas” becomes “Mele Kalikimaka”. It is a transliteration of “Merry Christmas” and not really a translation of it.

The song was written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson who is better known to fans of Hawaiian and hapa haole music as R. Alex Anderson. One of the earliest recordings of this song was by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters in 1950.

No worries celebrating Christmas in Hawaii. Our favorite thing to do on Christmas is take a picnic lunch and head for the beach. Try that in Utah!

Usually the first week of December is when the big town turns on the Honolulu Christmas lights. It is a very festive and exciting time for everyone.

There are rides for the children and plenty of food booths. And they always have excellent Christmas music by choirs, quartets and other groups.

There is an Electric Light Parade which goes down King Street and ends up at the Honolulu Hale. They also have plenty of Christmas decorations and displays. The celebration continues with a concert featuring local bands.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Since winter in Hawaii is usually when we have the largest waves, there are many surf competitions.

Although we celebrate a little differently than in the mainland, Christmas gifts are shared with friends, neighbors and family. It is a time to also share delicious Hawaiian delicacies, hang out and sing favorite songs. Often a family will have a luau with poi, kalua pig, laulau, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia or mochi for dessert (they are ono - yummy!)

The picture is a chocolate chip greeting card.
The picture is a chocolate chip greeting card.


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  • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

    Stephanie Launiu 2 years ago from Hawai'i

    Thanks for your hub on Kalikimaka. I pinned it to my "Hawaiian Christmas" board on pinterest.

    Mele Kalikimaka a me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou, Stephanie

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I hope you can come to Hawaii soon denise mohan. Thanks for your comments on my Christmas hub.

  • denise mohan profile image

    denise mohan 7 years ago from California

    Very cute hub. Everyone in the family (except me) has been to Hawaii and I'm looking forward to my turn.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Enjoy the beautiful white snow pmccray. I do miss it sometimes. Glad you liked the Hawaiian Christmas hub.

  • pmccray profile image

    pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

    Hey Hey from Utah . . we just got the first sprinkle of snow tonight (11/21/10). Your hub is so full of Christmas cheer love the pictures and videos.

  • MarieAlice profile image

    MarieAlice 7 years ago from Peru

    what a nice hub!!!is amazing how the same holiday is celebrated in so many different ways around the world... I will love to spend some day christmas time on a warm place!!!!!!!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you for commenting cameciob and glad that you finally understand the song Melel Kalikimaka.

    Thanks for educating me on your way to say Merry Christmas thoughtforce. I love learning about different cultures and their ways of celebrating during the holidays.

  • thougtforce profile image

    Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

    Hi elayne, it is so interesting to read about how to celebrate Christmas in a warm climat, but you seems to be alright! I would not mind it at all, it looks so nice! Lovely and great hub! Merry Christmas to you, or as we say; "God Jul"!

  • cameciob profile image

    cameciob 7 years ago

    Hi elayne. You know, I work in a store and starting november they run christmas music. Over the past years I've heard this song many times a day and always wondered what was tha Mele Kalikimaka all about. Finally I found out thanks to you.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    You are welcome Hello, hello, - I am so glad you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas to you, too.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Taht is a lovely and informative hub about other countries and cultures celebrating Christmas. Thank you for bringing it to us. Mele Kalikimaka to you and your family.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    It took me some time to get used to a warm Christmas, but I believe that Christ was born in April in a warm climate, so we are not far off in celebrating it the way it began. Glad you appreciated the hub.

    Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) Alternative Prime and Mele Kalikimaka to you too. My son is a musician also.

  • Alternative Prime profile image

    Alternative Prime 7 years ago from > California

    Hi elayne,

    Just wanted to stop by and say "Merry Christmas" just in case I don't get the chance from now until Dec 25th...Or shall we say "Mali Kalikimaka"!

    Being a musician I must say the Ukulele Ornament is my FAV!

    Alternative Prime

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

    How cheery! I loved it. Growing up in Del Rio, Texas - on the Mexican border - was not the typical white Christmas experience either. The palm trees were ok though. lol.

    Thank you for this inspiring hub!!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Mahalo nui loa Denise (thanks very much). Bing is a couple of generations before me, but he sure could sing. My Dad always listened to him.

    @LianaK - so glad you liked it and excited for your to spend time in the tropics too. Yeah!

  • LianaK profile image

    LianaK 7 years ago

    Wonderful hub! So excited that I get to spend some time this holiday season in a tropical place. Can't wait! Great times and memories of many past Christmases in the islands.

  • Denise Handlon profile image

    Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

    Beautiful, as usual. :) I'm not a big Bing fan so I enjoyed the second musical piece much better.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Oh yes - I forgot about the shaka hand gesture. I'll have to make a hub about the origin of that - pretty interesting. Glad you enjoyed it drbj.

    @b. Malin - I appreciate that! Yes, I love living by the ocean too - we are oceans apart! Thanks so much.

  • b. Malin profile image

    b. Malin 7 years ago

    You always have such wonderful Hubs...and living in Hawaii...that's a treat to see and dream about. I live on the Jersey Shore with great waves...after a storm. I love living near the ocean. So a "Mele Kalikmaka" to you as well.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

    Thank you, Ruth, for this bright and pretty hub. I noticed the statue of Santa making that lovely Hawaiian gesture! Mele Kalikimaka to you, too. :)