Friday, December 19, 2014

When did Christmas start in Hawaii?

The Christmas season is the start of “high season” in Hawaii, a 90 day period from December 15th though March 15th with the most visitors on the islands.  It is celebrated with colorful decorations in the stores and hotel lobbies.  Hawaii Island communities celebrate with parades, holiday lights, hula presentations, and festivals during this season and the fantastic weather makes it easy to have fun and get into the spirit.

Christmas was first celebrated in Hawaii after the missionaries arrived in the 1820.   However, the Hawaiians already celebrated the season with a festival called Makahiki.  The Makahiki festival started when the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades appear in the night sky and lasted about four months. The festival was held in honor of Lono,  the god of fertility and cultivated food plants.  The festival was celebrated with hula, bonfires, feasts, and sports competitions.  During Makahiki warfare was forbidden; it was a time of peace and celebration. 

In 1856, King Kamehameha IV declared Christmas to be a national day of Thanksgiving in Hawaii.   In 1862, Christmas was made a national holiday in Hawaii by authority of the King and there were huge celebrations on the islands.

"Mele Kalikimaka", the Hawaiian pronunciation for "Merry Christmas", became widely known in a song written by Robert Anderson in 1949 and made famous by Bing Crosby in 1950.

Mele Kalikimaka to everyone!