This festival was introduced to Hawaii with the arrival of Protestant missionaries, and is believed to have started after 1820. Most of the traditions they currently celebrate come from the missionaries. Before the Hawaiians celebrated the Christmas people know today, they had a festival named Makahiki which lasted around four months and in which all wars were forbidden. The season still had the essence of "peace and goodwill to all men", which is another thing people tend to associate with Christmas.
The first recorded Christmas in Hawaii was in 1786, when the captain of merchant ship the Queen Charlotte, George Dixon, was docked on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Dixon and his crew celebrated a large Christmas dinner that included a whole roast pig.
King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma of Hawaii officially celebrated Christmas in 1856 as a day of Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve of 1858 Mary Dominis threw a party at Washington Place featuring the first instance of a Christmas tree and Santa Claus in Hawaii. King Kamehameha IV declared it an official holiday in 1862.
The traditions on Christmas day are similar to other places; a large meal is eaten and then, as the beach is often nearby in Hawaii, surfing or swimming often takes place in the waters, and musical groups with guitars and ukuleles and dancing hula entertain the crowds on the beach. Santa hats are worn and the traditional Santa's sleigh and reindeer are replaced by an outrigger canoe pulled by dolphins. The different cultures and ethnic groups that have settled in the islands celebrate the Christmas traditions of Hawaii in their own unique ways, which may be religious or plainly secular. Even Santa Claus (Hawaiian: Kanakaloka) himself is not wearing his corporate red and white suit, but has swapped it for flowery Hawaiian clothes.
The phrase "Mele Kalikimaka" can be translated from Hawaiian to mean "Merry Christmas". It is also a Hawaiian themed Christmas song composed by Robert Alex Anderson in 1949. The phrase is borrowed directly from English, but, since Hawaiian has a different phonological system (in particular, Hawaiian does not possess the /r/ or /s/ of English, nor does it have the phonotactic constraints to allow consonants at the end of a syllable), "Merry Christmas" becomes "Mele Kalikimaka".
- Sjömansjul på Hawaii (song about Hawaii at Christmastime)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christmas in Hawaii.|
- "Hawaii Christmas – Christmas with Aloha, Mele Kalikimaka!". Aloha Hawaii. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- "Hawaiian Christmas and New Year's Phrases and Words – Celebrating Christmas in Hawaii". Gohawaii.about.com. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- "Christmas Traditions in Hawaii". Merry-christmas.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- "Christmas Tradition in Hawaii". Christmascarnivals.com. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- Thrum, Thomas G., ed. (1921). "'Santa Claus' Advent in Honolulu". Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1922. Honolulu: Honolulu Star-Bulletin. pp. 58–61.
- Kanahele, George S. (1999). Emma: Hawaii's Remarkable Queen. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 157–159. ISBN 978-0-8248-2240-8. OCLC 40890919.
- "Christmas Traditions of Hawaii". Allthingschristmas.com. Archived from the original on 2011-11-30. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- Elbert, S. & Pukui, M.; Hawaiian Dictionary, page 481
- Golston, Chris; Yang, Phong (2001). "White Hmong loanword phonology". In Féry, A.D. Green; van de Vijver, R. (eds.). Proceedings of HILP. 5. University of Potsdam: Potsdam. pp. 40–57.
- "Beach Boys – Hip Christmas Music". www.hipchristmas.com. Retrieved 2011-12-26.