Monday, December 24, 2018

MELE KALIKIMAKA FROM HONOLULU, HAWAII

Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus with poinsettias
in front of Honolulu Hale
Each year, I visit the downtown area to check out the Honolulu Christmas decorations. At Honolulu Hale, Santa and Mrs. Claus reign over the festivities: the tall Christmas tree, the Mele Kalikimaka toy display, and the Christmas wreath contest of unique wreaths decorating the walls. Hearing the squeals and chatter of school children as they enjoy the sights always brings a smile to my face.

The days leading up to Christmas Day are a time for just that, squeals and chatter, the joys of childhood, and remembering the pleasures of past holidays. In our family, celebrations were prefaced with attendance at mass, first St. Luke's Church, and later Holy Redeemer Church. Giving thanks reminded us not to take our many blessings for granted.
Today I am focused on simple blessings so often taken for granted throughout the busy year: colorful birds and flowers during my walks; the sweetly-tart juiciness of a chilled tangerine; and an unexpected exchange of friendly greetings. Burdens lessen as I concentrate on a few of my "favorite things."  

May your days be filled with merriment and peace!

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The following is an article I first posted in 2009. Much of the information remains relevant, although I haven't seen The Candy Cane Train in years and Santa on the roof of Ala Moana Center doesn't have a lei this year!

MELE KALIKIMAKA is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Remember Bing Crosby's 1950 rendition, accompanied by the Andrew Sisters? "That's the island greeting that we send to you  . . ."

The holiday season on the island of O'ahu opens with the Honolulu City Lights celebration. The Electric Light Parade travels through downtown to Honolulu Hale (City Hall) for the annual tree-lighting ceremony. This year's tree is a striking 55-foot Norfolk pine. Another tradition is "Nutcracker" performed on-stage at Blaisdell Concert Hall. 

At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, rows of evergreen wreaths on grave sites honor fallen veterans this holiday season. The wreaths adorn 1,288 of the graves, part of the Wreaths Across America campaign.

Aunties like myself, keiki, and tutus all enjoy the entertainment of Hawaii's local groups this time of year - Na Leo Pilimehana, Makaha Sons, Kapena, and the Brothers Cazimero, to name a few; special hula dance groups (halaus) including Hoku Zuttermeister; and celebrities Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, Keali'i Reichel, and Willie K (the title of his Christmas song "Aloha Kalikimaka" reveals what the K stands for.) Music by the late Israel (Iz) Kamakawiwo'ole is always heard around the islands. 

Candy Cane Train
At Ala Moana Center, our open-air shopping mall, children ride the Candy Cane Train and watch musical productions on Center Stage, the illusion of snow delighting the young at heart. Hula performers draped in colorful regalia entertain with beautifully choreographed, swaying movements.


Santa gets lei-d for the holidays
But it isn't officially the "season to be jolly" until the Santa Claus statue is assembled up on the center's rootftop for all to see!

In Honolulu, jolly ol' St. Nicholas arrives in an outrigger canoe, landing on the shores of Waikiki! http://bit.ly/IPRKP1 
And we do have real snow here. Recently, my cousin reminded me of the snow-covered mountain of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Low temperatures on Maui's Haleakala also attract the white fluffy stuff that folks in the northern states take for granted this time of year.


Hawaiian Menehune




Kalikimaka is Hawaiian for Christmas.
Mele means song or chant; also, merry.
This is truly the locals' traditional way,
Of sending holiday greetings,
To say Merry Christmas. To you.


Aloha Nui Loa,
That's Hawaii's way to say
"a canoe-full of love."

Although some traditions come and go, the spirit of the holidays always remains,
and around the Islands, people of all faiths share the spirit of

ALOHA!
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