Christmas in Hawaii
Christmas in Hawaii is more affordable than you may think, and it's a wonderful time to see any of the islands. I just checked with Hawaiian Airlines (my favorite airlines) for flying from LAX to HNL December 7 and returning December 15 (2010) and found tickets for $209 total (all fees, taxes included) one-way so $418 round trip, with first two checked in bags free.(how's that for holiday spirit, free as they should be :-)
And..while spending Christmas Day in Hawaii normally involves spending almost double on airfare, if you can spend a bit longer than a week in Hawaii, you can get some really good deals - I found one that was even less than the December 7 to 15 rates. Flying out of LA on Thursday (usually one of the lower fare days), December 16 to Honolulu and returning after Christmas on December 28 - $320 roundtrip! You can also save hundreds on lodging, shopping and activities by following tips on my site and in my Hawaii Budget Vacation guides.
Hawaii Christmas Memories
Christmas time in Hawaii is among my favorite remembrances of living on Oahu and the Big Island (island of Hawaii). I loved going to the kids' school Christmas concerts (as on the mainland too) but here they sing songs like "Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe," and the Hawaiian version of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Good fun!
Outdoor concerts in Honolulu on Oahu at Christmas are amazing. Hearing "Silent Night" sung in English and Hawaiian by a choir on a balmy evening under the stars with palm trees swaying was nothing short of magical. The hulu dance for this song is quite beautiful and performed in schools, churches, at the free beach shows ...
The city goes all out with their Honolulu City Lights display and they have special trolley rides that take you around so you don't miss any of the festive displays. At the interisland terminal, the Honolulu Airport's towering Chriistmas tree was lit with golden lights that highlighted the lauhala woven pineapples. Wow!
Holidays in Hawaii, especially Christmas are widely celebrated. Even many of the Buddhist families participate in Christmas traditions, especially the Japanese-Americans, who come from long standing traditions of gift giving. If you're visiting the islands for the holidays, you will find a myriad of Christmas events on Oahu, actually on all the islands, but more so on Oahu.
In Hawaii, Santa gives his reindeer a Christmas break and arrives in a canoe, barefoot, tanned and with his red furry pants rolled up. On Oahu, his first stop is, as it is for most of Hawaii's visitors, Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Some of my favorite Oahu Christmas events : the Honolulu Lights holiday trolley rides and the music – choirs, orchestras and local style bands - are found everywhere with free concerts at malls and on the beach. Adding to the holiday fun, many of Hawaii's most popular musicians like the Brothers Cazimero perform regularly in Waikiki.
One thing that I kinda didn't like at Christmas time in Hawaii where we lived (a rural area - Puna, Big Island) was that some of the families shoot off fireworks and firecrackers off and on througout December. Now fireworks are a big deal here at New Year's, but they go on sale in the stores around December 1. I didn't notice early ones much in the city but out in the boonies it's harder to enforce those kind of laws. Firecrackers are legal with a permit and some buy them in rolls of 1,000 and more. New Year's Eve is quite loud - and smoky.
Back to Christmas. The foods - yum. Many of the churches have Christmas luau with the traditional kahlua pig, poi, fish, yams and coconut puddings. Local families usually have turkey or something special for their Christmas dinners (just like on the mainland). Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and all that is popular.
Our First Hawaiian Christmas Tree
The trees are pretty traditional too. Douglas Firs and other Christmas trees are shipped over and sold at Wal-mart and the supermarkets. We also have the Norfolk Pine trees here, which are easy to decorate with the huge spaces between their branches. We got one of these our first year and hung tinsel on it, not thinking about the tradewinds and windows open in Decemeber. The kids wove coconut ornaments at a free workshop at the beach, so we did have some really cute decorations left after the tinsel mess was cleaned up.
Another thing I loved about Christmas in Hawaii - enjoying a sunny beach with family and friends in the dead of winter :-)