Have a Warm, Shaka Christmas, Hawaiian-Style

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Halekulani hotel offers a pool as well as easy access to the beach. Photo courtesy Halekulani
Halekulani hotel offers a pool as well as easy access to the beach. Photo courtesy Halekulani

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even in Hawaii – just trade golden beaches, blue waters and colorful Hawaiian shirts for Oklahoma’s white, icy weather. I’m game!

Yes, Christmas in the islands is merry, bright and shaka. You know shaka, right? That’s the friendly hand gesture popularized by surfers for Hang Loose or Hang 10, formed by making a loose fist, extending the thumb and pinky, and lazily shaking the hand. Waving shaka can mean hello, that’s cool, good job or goodbye.

Honolulu City Lights displays multiple unique Christmas trees. Photo courtesy Honolulu City Lights
Honolulu City Lights displays multiple unique Christmas trees. Photo courtesy Honolulu City Lights

There’s even a 21-foot Shaka Santa who with his wife, Tutu Mele, is stationed outside Honolulu Hale (city hall) amid the civic center’s annual holiday light display on Oahu, throwing a shaka. The tree-lighting ceremony takes place this year Dec. 3, accompanied by monthlong displays of uniquely decorated Christmas trees and wreaths, an electric light parade, keiki (children) rides, food booths and entertainment.

Although not 21-feet tall, some of Santa’s helpers have been known to make their way to shore aboard outrigger canoes during December, where they greet the keiki and hand out gifts on the beach at several locations including the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort and Halekulani in Waikiki (Oahu).

The island of Kauai kicks off the holidays even before Honolulu, with the Dec. 2 annual lighting of Christmas decorations on the grounds of the historic County Building. Live local entertainment, Christmas caroling and a float parade down Rice Street are some of the night’s activities.

Hawaii’s second-longest-running parade will celebrate its 56th run on Dec. 3 in Waimea on the island of Hawaii. This year is themed “Starlight Christmas” and will include a Santa float, dozens of units representing everyone from Waimea keiki to kupuna (elders) representing churches, schools, youth groups, community organizations, farms, ranches and businesses, plus a huge brigade of festively-lighted trucks. As always, Santa has promised to ride in the parade and afterwards, visit with keiki at Parker Ranch Center’s Fireside Food Court.

One thing you must learn before departing Oklahoma for Hawaii is how to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. Mele Kalikimaka, just like the song made famous by Don Ho, Bing Crosby, Bette Midler and countless others.

The second annual Mele Kalikimaka Marketplace is a one-stop local holiday shop catering to visitors and residents who are looking for holiday gifts and family activities. The event will be held Dec. 10 and 11 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall on Oahu. Locals regard the two days as Hawaii’s premier holiday shopping emporium, showcasing food products, gifts, books, apparel, jewelry, crafts and lots of market goods.

Hawaii has plenty of music and entertainment for the holidays. Photo courtesy Halekulani
Hawaii has plenty of music and entertainment for the holidays. Photo courtesy Halekulani

On Dec. 10, since you’re on Oahu anyway, take in the Electric Light Parade, Kapolei City Lights, along with beautiful Christmas trees at Kapolei Hale and the Street Party from 3 to 8 p.m. that features food trucks, entertainment and many free activities for keiki.

The incomparable Amy Hanaialii and Willie K Holiday deliver the best in Hawaiian music in an exclusive engagement the evening of Dec. 17. The melodies will fill a truly remarkable venue, the Hawaii Theatre on Oahu.

Feeling energetic? On Dec. 18, it’s the 12th annual 5k Jingle Bell Beach Run at Coconut Grove Marketplace in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii. Awards are given out to the top finishers as well as the top Christmas costumes. Raffle prizes follow the awards, so it’s hard for anyone to go home empty-handed.

And finally, on Christmas Eve, it’s the Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium on Oahu.

How many more reasons to have a merry shaka Hawaiian Christmas do you need?

Mahalo.

Snowmen with surfboards illustrate hawaii’s uncoventional approach to the holidays. Photo courtesy Honolulu City Lights
Snowmen with surfboards illustrate hawaii’s uncoventional approach to the holidays. Photo courtesy Honolulu City Lights

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