Mele Kalikimaka or Merry Christmas from Hawaii
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.
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!)