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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

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Thursday
Dec202012

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas to all!

Hawaii is a special place at Christmas time. Balmy tradewinds and twinkling lights make this a very special holiday for locals and visitors alike.

While you won’t see snow except for rare occasions atop Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for "white mountain" -- for that very reason!), you will still see signs of Christmas on every island.

You may not experience frosty temperatures but who is going to complain about wearing a bikini or a pair of surf shorts on the holiday??

We may not have chestnuts roasting on an open fire,because few homes have fireplaces in the Aloha State! But we sure can roast some Macadamia nuts in the imu.

Christmas really can be Christmas in Hawaii. Hawaii residents begin putting up their holiday lights and Christmas trees as soon as the last piece of Thanksgiving turkey is devoured. There are joyous Christmas concerts, community parades and dazzling Festivals of Light throughout the state.

 History

Christmas wasn’t formally introduced to Hawaii until after 1820, the year Protestant missionaries came to Hawaii from New England.

In ancient times, however, the holiday coincided with a traditional Hawaiian festival called Makahiki. This celebration lasted for four months and included great feasts and games. During this time, wars and conflicts were strictly forbidden. As far as the early Hawaiians were concerned, the Makahiki was their time for “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

The first Christmas celebration in Hawaii is believed to have occurred in 1786, when Captain George Dixon, docked aboard the Queen Charlotte in Waimea Bay on Kauai, commanded his crew to prepare a Christmas dinner that included roasted pig, pie and grog mixed with coconut milk. The English navigator then led his men in toasts to their families and friends back home.

In 1856, Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV) declared December 25 to be his kingdom’s national day of Thanksgiving.

Two years later, Santa Claus made his first appearance in Hawaii, arriving at Washington Place (now the governor’s residence) to deliver gifts for the children. Today, you may see Santa arrive on  surfboard, and witness his elves wearing aloha shirts. 

Today, there’s no bigger Christmas celebration than “Honolulu City Lights,” a favorite holiday spectacle put on by the City & County of Honolulu. Held at Honolulu Hale (City Hall), “Honolulu City Lights” features a 50-foot Norfolk pine Christmas tree, elaborate Christmas tree and wreath exhibits, giant Yuletide displays and live entertainment.

Whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s no better place to catch the Christmas spirit in the islands.

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas!