With snowstorms and freezing cold weather on the mainland, and some interesting weather here in Hawaii right now, Christmas in Hawaii nonetheless remains about as far from a traditional Christmas as you can get. And for most of us living or visiting here, that’s a good thing.
As for the hail and snow, yes, that’s real. Today and tomorrow, Hawaii is experiencing a winter storm, replete with Kona winds of up to 40 miles per hour and copious amounts of rain. NWS warned today to expect to possibly experience hail in Hawaii, even at sea level. It’s been a number of years since we’ve seen that.
Snow in Hawaii?
We can’t say if it will snow tonight, but it wouldn’t be out of the question at Haleakala, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa. Snow in Hawaii is possible there, with heights up to 13,000 feet. Other times, it has snowed in Hawaii at as low as 3,000 feet. We’ve seen that at Kokee State Park on Kauai, for example. It didn’t last long.
Christmas Day in Hawaii includes many traditions.
A perennial favorite is swimming in the ocean and spending quality time relaxing at the beach. Other Hawaii Christmas traditions include beautifully lit homes, garage parties (reinstated this year following Covid), boat parades, and ubiquitous Hawaiian Christmas music performances that also blast from cars, trucks, and ATVs.
Last night on our island, Kauai Sings Christmas resumed after a three-year absence, Grove Farm Homestead hosted an evening program with Christmas decorations and hot chocolate, and the town of Waimea hosted its Christmas parade. That’s just an example of the many events you’ll find.
Idyllic weather. The weather in Hawaii is almost always great. Except for today and tomorrow. At the holidays, it is still generally beach weather during the days, albeit somewhat cooler at night. That’s why locals flock to the beaches during the holidays.
Enjoy our wildlife in winter.
You can enjoy viewing fauna in Hawaii year-round. That includes spectacular birds, endangered sea turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals. But at this time of the year (from fall through early spring), humpback whales are found here too. They can be seen on all the islands and are a sight not to miss. There is always an abundance of opportunities for free whale watching in Hawaii.
What’s Happening Around Hawaii.
Honolulu City Lights, which your editors attended on opening day earlier this month, is a major, festive community celebration that’s been going on for three decades and has always featured a grand display of trees and wreaths, live entertainment, contests, a parade, and more. It was extra festive this year, coming off of its pandemic hiatus.
Enjoy displays that include Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele at Honolulu Hale (pictured here), a 50-foot decorated Christmas tree, and the building itself adorned with decorations. Indoors, there is the traditional wreath contest, and on the first night, there was a great parade. The enthusiasm was palpable.
On Kauai Beat of Hawaii has been a regular participant at the Festival of Lights for decades. The Lights on Rice parade resumed again after a 3-year break during COVID. There was also yesterday’s Waimea Town Celebration and parade.
On Maui, the enormous, nearly 150-year-old banyan tree is illuminated with thousands of holiday lights for the 23rd consecutive year. Enjoy it nightly from 6 to midnight through December. This is the largest banyan tree in the country.
Also, earlier this month, holiday parades took place on the Big Island.
First Christmas in Hawaii
The first known Christmas in Hawaii occurred in 1786, here on Kauai, when a merchant ship was anchored, and the crew celebrated Christmas with roast pig. While merchant ships have been replaced by Matson container ships, the tradition of roast pig continues to this day.
Before westerners arrived, Hawaiians enjoyed Makahihi, a winter festival that prohibited all wars. Lasting from about November to February, work stopped, offerings were made, and feasts, dances, sports, and other celebrations occurred.
However you plan to celebrate the holidays, enjoy.
And from the Beat of Hawaii, we wish you Mele Kalikimaka, Hau’oli Hanukaha, and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou.
Beat of Hawaii photo at Honolulu Hale/Honolulu City Lights, December 2022.