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Top 5 Hawaiian Christmas Traditions You’ll Find Interesting

We’re always talking about European or American holiday traditions, but have you ever thought about the Hawaiian Christmas traditions? How do Hawaiians celebrate Christmas, or, what’s their food preparation tradition for this festive season? How do you say merry Christmas in Hawaiian? And what is Makahiki Festival? If you’re curious, you should read our post.

How Were The Hawaiian Christmas Traditions Formed?


In fact, it was until 1862 that Hawaiians officially celebrated Christmas. However, records showed that there were small celebrations as early as 1786. 

The Protestants and Catholic missionaries, and then traders, and sailors worldwide had enriched Hawaiian traditions with their various conventional holidays. Soon enough, the new traditions blended with occasional customs already native to Hawaii.

Before becoming a formally admitted holiday, December 25th was not Christmas Eve. It was, instead, Hawaii’s Thanksgiving Day.

Makahiki Festival

Makahiki is an indigenous holiday that usually lasts from October to February. Since it’s based on the lunar calendar, the precise dates vary each year. Makahiki Festival existed before the concept of Hawaiian Christmas traditions appeared.

The feast honors the god Lono and is, basically, a crop celebration. According to Hawaiian myths, battles and wars were postponed during this time. Residents from all across the islands would gather for sports matches, arm wrestling, and spear-throwing, for example. 

These days, Hawaiians celebrate Makahiki Festival in a more modern way. They hold cultural demonstrations and athletic events at national parks. People of all ages, even tourists, can come and enjoy the shows.

How Do You Say Merry Christmas In Hawaiian?


Planning to have a Christmas vacation in Hawaii? Then learning how to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian is a must!

In order to share the Christmas spirit, the expression you need to know is  “Mele Kalikimaka”. It basically means “Merry Christmas” in English. Reading this far, does the Hawaiian phrase ring any bell? That’s right, it’s Robert Anderson and Bing Crosby’s song!

What takes you so long? Let’s play the song and truly learn to SAY Merry Christmas in Hawaiian!

Hawaiian Christmas Traditions

How do Hawaiians celebrate Christmas? Do they simply putting on decorations like other places or do they have other unique traditions?

Wait For Christmas Trees To Be Delivered


The classic concept of Christmas is always about nicely-decorated pine trees with lights and ornaments. They are the core spirit when it comes to Christmas no matter what. 

However, the tropical climate of Hawaii islands isn’t ideal for Christmas trees to grow. As a result, Hawaiian families can only order pine trees abroad. They are kept in refrigerated containers through cargo ships from chillier climates.

If something goes wrong and pine trees can’t arrive in time, Hawaiians still have their own ways to enjoy Christmas. Instead of using the classic evergreen, they’ll decorate their signature palm trees. With long strands of lights, the scene looks amazing and brilliant.

Decorate Vehicles


One of the special Hawaiian Christmas traditions is adorning their vehicles with lights. Then, they drive their cars or trucks through the streets while playing Christmas carols. By doing this, they’re sharing the Christmas spirit with everyone in town.

For a formal parade, you can visit Lights on Rice in Kauai. It happens in early December every year. Both locals and tourists gather together to enjoy the music show and admire the decorations.

There Is No Santa Claus Sleighs

Sleighs aren’t in fact a common sight when talking about Hawaiian Christmas traditions. So Santa has to show up in a canoe pulled by dolphins across the sea.

Even Santa Claus’ look is unique here. Instead of a red suit, Santa put on swim trunks under the classic red aloha shirt or red coat. He’s also going barefoot when delivering presents to island children.

Have A Family Treat – Hawaiian Christmas Food Traditions


Food is certainly a must-have part of any holiday celebration. Christmas in Hawaii is no exception. Like other seasonal feasts, meals at this time are a combination of old and new traditions. You might see turkey alongside sticky rice, poke bowls, and tropical fruit on the table for dinner.

One of the best Hawaiian Christmas food traditions is to feast on Kalua Pig. There will be a roast pig cooked in an underground oven. People wrap it with hot rocks and banana leaves. Kalua pork takes quite a long time to cook. But the texture is incredible. Its flavor can even make it an alternative to ham or turkey.

Sing Hawaiian Carols

When the holiday season comes around, just like in other countries, Hawaiians sing along to their own versions of Christmas songs. One of their favorites is the 12 Days of Christmas. Learn the hula dance too if you want to go a long way.

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Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!


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