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Christmas in Hawaii

a train cake sitting on top of a table

People have been celebrating Christmas in Hawaii since 1820, and the tradition has developed a uniquely aloha flavor over the years. Prior to the arrival of Christmas, Hawaiians would celebrate four months of peace and feasting during the winter months. This tradition was known as Makahiki.

Let’s talk about what it’s like to get holly and jolly at Christmas in Hawaii.

Christmas in Hawaii: Is it a Busy Time to Visit?

Hotels do become more expensive in the weeks of Christmas and New Years. If you come to the islands during this time, you may experience longer wait times and need to plan for crowds at popular destinations.

While people in Hawaii do traditionally celebrate Christmas during the later half of December, there is plenty to do in the earlier part of the month that isn’t as crowded or costly.

Early December can bring similar joy without the rising prices. If you’re interested in seeing the lighting of the tree in Oahu, visit Honolulu Hale on December 4th. You can still visit the 2021 Christmas Boat Parade which happens on December 11th. At this event, you’ll see lit up boats traveling in a parade and bringing holiday cheer.

Snowman family displayed at Honolulu City Lights on Oahu
Snowman family displayed at Honolulu City Lights on Oahu

How is the Weather in Hawaii at Christmas?

If you choose to visit in December, you’ll find cooler weather than you’ll encounter in the summertime. It does rain 10 days or so during this month, but you will find the majority of precipitation happens at night, leaving daytime highs in the comfortable mid to upper 70s.

You won’t find snow at Christmastime in Hawaii unless you summit one of its volcanoes, where the temperatures can be much cooler.

How do People Decorate their Houses?

Poinsettias bring holiday cheer in Hawaii
Poinsettias bring holiday cheer in Hawaii

Boats bring Christmas trees to Hawaii, making them more expensive than on the mainland. But many have found wonderful ways to celebrate the holiday spirit without the evergreen.

Hawaiian families use local flowers to celebrate the season, and light up native trees such as palm trees to keep spirits bright. Poinsettias grow here, making this an especially festive season.

Uniquely Hawaiian Traditions

A meat centerpiece is a common food for gathering. In Hawaii, families gather around a Kālua pig. This is a pig cooked slowly using traditional methods in an underground oven. This provides a delicious flavor and copious amounts of food, making it perfect for a Christmas celebration.

In Hawaii, Santa ditches the sleigh and reindeer and instead paddles to shore in a canoe. Shaka Santa shows the aloha sign to represent the uniquely Hawaiian way of celebrating the holidays.