Celebrating Holidays Hawaiian Style
The most celebrated holidays in Hawaii are Christmas and New Year's Eve. I was surprised my first year living in Hawaii to find while fireworks were scarce at Fourth of July, we found entire sections in supermarkets devoted to fireworks at Christmas time for New Year's Eve celebrations.
Christmas and New Year's in Hawaii are wonderful examples of how Hawaii's holidays reflect and celebrate the many cultures that are shared here. The Chinese brought us the exciting New Year's Eve fireworks, but other multi-cultural traditions are shared on this holiday too – the not so much fun one of cleaning windows for the New Year's (Portuguese), and the delicious mochi, a sweet snack made from rice for New Year's Day (Japanese).
And at Christmas time, the tradition of gift giving is shared by most, Buddhists and Christians alike. The Hawaii Christmas tree, the Norfolk Pine, is easy to decorate with its wide spaces between the branches, but most locals prefer the fragrant Douglas Firs that are shipped in and sold in big box store parking lots just like on the mainland.
You can find many Hawaiian style ornaments from fancy, glass baubles with sand and shells sold in upscale department stores, to hand-made Santa's in canoes and coconut woven ornaments found at the numerous Christmas Craft Fairs (I'd never seen so many of these fairs till I moved to Hilo!)
Below you will find a list of official national and state holidays observed in Hawaii. If the day falls on a weekend and not during a regularly scheduled holiday closure (such as Christmas vacation from school), the schools and other places that honor the holiday, close the preceding Friday or following Monday. Many more special days are honored in Hawaii, such as Lei Day (May 1st) and, from Japanese origins, Boys Day and Girls Day. These last two days are often celebrated in elementary schools by doing favors for each other. For example, on Boys Day, the girls will straighten the boys' desks and chairs at the end of the day, and on Girls Day, the boys will do the same for the girls.
Tip: By using the Hawaii Events Calendar (linked in my navigation menu) you can search for the dates around these holidays and see what events are sceduled. You can use this calendar to search by island as well. For example, if you select the Special Events category for Oahu for the month of December, you'll see when and where the Honolulu City Lights Christmas events take place.
Public Holidays in Hawaii
New Year's Day January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 15
President's Day February 19
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole Day March 26
Good Friday April 6
Easter Sunday April 8
Memorial Day May 28
King Kamehameha Day June 11
Independence Day July 4 Statehood Day August 17 Labour Day September 3 Columbus Day October 8 *Veterans Day November 11 Thanksgiving Day Last Thursday of November Christmas Day December 25
*Holidays falling on Saturday or Sunday are taken on the following Monday.
Not an official holiday, but a popular one - Halloween is celebrated