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Mele Kalikimaka – Dreaming of Christmas in Maui

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If you read my post from a couple of days ago you’d know that I’m a bit ‘Bah Humbug’ at the moment. I’m positively lacking in festive cheer thanks, in part, to a painful back injury. Where I would normally be relishing all things Christmassy – stockings by the fire, Christmas carols, a beautifully adorned Christmas tree, hoping for snow on Christmas day, mulled wine…, this year, right now, all I want to do is escape the cold and head somewhere basking in glorious sunshine. 

I would like to go west – further west than I have ever been before (that would be Dublin by the way!) I would like to go somewhere tropical, somewhere like the Hawaiian islands.

I might have found myself looking for holiday rentals in Maui online this morning while I was drinking my first (of many) coffee of the day. I don’t know why I picked Maui over all the other Hawaiian islands, it was the first one that came to mind (we do watch Moana an awful lot in this house so that probably had something to do with it). 

How lovely would it be to spend Christmas in such a tropical location? It would be a complete departure from the type of Christmas we are used to here in the UK.

What is Christmas in Hawaii like? How does it differ from our vision of a traditional Christmas? The idea of  Christmas in Maui got stuck in my head while I was daydreaming about holiday rentals, so I had to find out more about they celebrate the festive season 7,000 miles away from the UK.

To say Merry Christmas in Hawaii you say ‘Mele Kalikimaka’, and the man in red is known as Kanakaloka. Christmas Day has been officially celebrated across the Hawaiian islands since 1856. Prior to then the people of Hawaii celebrated a festival of peace and goodwill to men called Makahiki which lasted around 4 months each year. During those four months, all wars were forbidden and Hawaiians would give thanks to the Gods for the abundance of the earth and to also pray for prosperity and rain in the coming year.

Christmas celebrations in Hawaii nowadays are a mix of the traditional idea of Christmas that you and I know, and the laid-back, relaxed atmosphere associated with the Aloha state.

For a start, Santa Claus (Kanakaloka) doesn’t wear his standard festive attire of red suit and boots. While he is in Hawaii he is more likely to be seen wearing a flowery Aloha shirt, and shorts. The reindeer also have a little break during Kanakaloka’s time in the Aloha state. Rather than his seven trusted coursers pulling his sleigh Santa instead delivers his presents by Outrigger canoe pulled along (apparently) by dolphins. 

Maui Coastline

Whereas Honolulu on the island of Ohau has a traditional Christmas tree on display each year ( a 50ft Norfolk Pine) Maui instead decorates its famous Banyan Tree, located in Lahaina town centre, with thousands of lights. The Banyan tree canopy sprawls across an area of about 0.66 acres, and when the main trunk and 16 additional trunks, and canopy, are covered in lights it really is a sight to behold.

There is the standard large meal that we have come to expect on Christmas day – but whereas you and I might normally find ourselves settling in on the sofa to watch some Christmas TV, or spend the afternoon playing board games with the family after Christmas lunch, in Hawaii people are more likely to be found heading to the beach for the afternoon. While there they will swim, or surf, or just relax while groups of musicians play their instruments and people dance the hula.  

I think all of the above sounds divine, especially right now as I have just returned from a very chilly school Christmas church service, and I’m trying to warm up my hands with a mug of hot chocolate as I type this. I am normally the type of person who relishes the idea of a traditional Christmas. Well, I was. But I do wonder now if a Christmas in somewhere like Maui is just what I need.

It would be a complete departure from what I am used to. There would be nothing hum-drum about a Christmas in Maui, would there? The idea of settling into a beautiful holiday rental property for a couple of weeks over the festive period does sound enticing, as does getting to experience the best of the Aloha spirit that Hawaii is famed for.

Oh, to just disappear for a couple of weeks with Rob and the kids – to spend our days down on the beach, or in Haleakalā National Park, or walking around the town of Lahaina to see the Banyan tree in all it’s festive finery. It pretty much sounds like my idea of a dream holiday.

But alas, a dream it shall have to remain – at least for a couple of years anyway. But one day, maybe we will get the opportunity to head off somewhere exotic, such as Hawaii, for the festive season. In the meantime though, I am going to get over my wanderlust for Maui and focus on making this Christmas as festive as possible.

Have you ever spent Christmas abroad, maybe somewhere exotic or are you a traditionalist and would never consider anywhere other than the UK for your Christmas break? Have you ever been to Hawaii, Maui in particular? What did you love about your time on the Aloha state? I would love to know, so why not leave me a comment below. 


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