« Back to Blog

Mele Kalikimaka!

We all love our own traditions that we have around the holidays. Whether it involves hanging a pickle on the tree or visiting relatives that we never see, most have something that they always do around the holiday time. Our traditions are one of the things that make our celebrations and family time enjoyable and they cause us to look forward to the holidays months long before they are here. We, here in Hawaii, have our own family traditions, as well as ones unique to these beautiful islands. Today, we are going to share some fun facts about Christmas in Hawaii and some of our own traditions.

Late Beginnings & Makahiki

Unlike the rest of the United States, Christmas is a relatively new holiday in Hawaii. Christmas was first introduced to Hawaii in 1820 by Protestant missionaries. Though Christmas is a “new” holiday to Hawaii, those native to the area had been celebrating a similar holiday long before. Makahiki was a four-month-long festival during which war was forbidden and was intended to be a season of peace on earth and good will toward men, which is what Christmas is all about.

How We Celebrate Today

Like anywhere else in the U.S., Hawaii goes all out for Christmas. Every year, Honolulu City Lights ceremony features live entertainment and a decorated 50-foot Norfolk pine tree. People everywhere throughout the islands enjoy large meals together and often, time spent at the beach surfing or swimming. Musical groups can be found playing Christmas music with ukuleles and guitars. Many wear Santa hats. However, Santa’s or Kanakaloka’s traditional outfit is often replaced with Hawaiian shirt-inspired garb. Additionally, in Hawaii, reindeer get the year off and Santa’s sleigh becomes a canoe pulled by dolphins!

Mele Kalikimaka

Instead of wishing you a Merry Christmas, in Hawaii, if you spend the holidays with us, you will probably hear natives wishing you a Mele Kalikimaka which means Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. The phrase was popularized by Robert Alex Anderson’s song in 1949 which still remains a mainstay of our Christmas music collection.

Come Visit Us!

Spending the holidays with family other than your own or observing other’s traditions can feel odd, but can be a fun and enlightening experience! Instead of doing the same old thing, come to Oahu and see how we celebrate Christmas here and get a break from the cold, dry weather. Enjoy warm beaches, delicious food, and become a part of our family this holiday season. Bring the whole family with you!

We at Oahu Photography Tours would love to help you celebrate the holidays with your family doing something new, like a Hawaii photography tour. On our day-long tours, you get a chance to see this beautiful place that we call home and get the assistance of professional photographers so that you can take beautiful pictures of the breathtaking scenery in front of you and learn a little more about the art of photography. Whether you come visit us and take a Hawaii photography tour or stay bundled up near the fire with family, from all of us at Oahu Photography Tours, Mele Kalikimaka to you and those you hold dear!