Which words in Hawaiian mean Merry Christmas?

Holidays & Special Events

By Kristy Tolley

Understanding Hawaiian Christmas Greetings

Christmas is a time of joy and celebration around the world, and Hawaii adds its own unique twist to the festivities. One of the most distinctive aspects of Hawaiian Christmas greetings is the use of the Hawaiian language. While many people are familiar with the phrase "Mele Kalikimaka," few know its origin or meaning. In this article, we’ll explore the Hawaiian words for Merry Christmas and the traditions surrounding this special time of year.

The Hawaiian Word for Christmas: Mele Kalikimaka

The most famous Hawaiian Christmas greeting is undoubtedly "Mele Kalikimaka." This phrase is a phonetic translation of "Merry Christmas" into Hawaiian, using the Hawaiian alphabet. It is a fusion of English and Hawaiian, and one of the most recognizable Hawaiian words in the world.

The Meaning of Mele Kalikimaka

Mele Kalikimaka is a simple but powerful phrase that encapsulates the spirit of the holiday season: joy, peace, and goodwill towards others. The word "mele" means song, and "kalikimaka" is the Hawaiian word for Christmas. Together, they create a warm and festive greeting that is perfect for spreading holiday cheer.

The Origins of Mele Kalikimaka

The history of Mele Kalikimaka is somewhat unclear, but it is thought to have originated around the turn of the 20th century. At that time, Hawaii was undergoing a cultural renaissance, and there was a renewed interest in Hawaiian language and culture. Mele Kalikimaka may have been created as a way to blend Hawaiian and Western traditions in a unique and meaningful way.

How to Pronounce Mele Kalikimaka

The pronunciation of Mele Kalikimaka can be tricky for non-Hawaiian speakers, but it is not as difficult as it may seem. The word "mele" is pronounced "MAY-lay," and "kalikimaka" is pronounced "kah-lee-kee-MAH-kah." When spoken together, the phrase should sound like "MAY-lay kah-lee-kee-MAH-kah." With a little practice, anyone can master the pronunciation of Mele Kalikimaka.

Other Hawaiian Christmas Greetings

While Mele Kalikimaka is the most well-known Hawaiian Christmas greeting, it is not the only one. Another common greeting is "Hau’oli Lanui," which means "happy holiday" in Hawaiian. This phrase is often used interchangeably with Mele Kalikimaka, and can be a great way to mix things up and spread even more holiday cheer.

Hau’oli Lanui: A Common Hawaiian Christmas Greeting

Hau’oli Lanui is a versatile greeting that can be used for any holiday occasion, not just Christmas. It is pronounced "how-OH-lee la-NOO-ee," and is a great way to express your best wishes to friends, family, and loved ones during the holiday season.

The Meaning of Hau’oli Lanui

Hau’oli Lanui translates to "happy holiday" in Hawaiian, and is a simple and straightforward way to convey your holiday greetings. It is a broad and inclusive greeting that can be used for any holiday, and is perfect for spreading joy and goodwill to everyone you meet.

Other Hawaiian Words for Merry Christmas

In addition to Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Lanui, there are other Hawaiian words and phrases that can be used to wish someone a Merry Christmas. For example, "Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou" means "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" in Hawaiian. This phrase is a bit more formal than Mele Kalikimaka or Hau’oli Lanui, but can be a great way to express your heartfelt wishes to those closest to you.

Hawaiian Christmas Traditions

Hawaii has a rich and unique cultural heritage, and this is reflected in the many Christmas traditions that are observed throughout the islands. One of the most distinctive of these traditions is the lighting of the Christmas tree at Honolulu Hale, the seat of government for the City and County of Honolulu. This event is attended by thousands of people each year and is a highlight of the Christmas season in Hawaii.

Celebrating Christmas in Hawaii

Christmas in Hawaii is a time for family, friends, and good cheer. Many locals celebrate the holiday with a traditional Hawaiian feast, known as a luau, which includes dishes like kalua pig, poi, and haupia. Others opt for a more Western-style Christmas dinner, with turkey, ham, and all the fixings. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, the spirit of aloha is always present, making Christmas in Hawaii a truly special experience.

Conclusion: Spreading Mele Kalikimaka Cheer

Whether you’re a native Hawaiian or a visitor to the islands, Mele Kalikimaka is the perfect way to share your holiday greetings with those around you. By learning the origin and meaning of this iconic phrase, as well as other Hawaiian Christmas greetings, you can spread holiday cheer and goodwill to everyone you meet. So this holiday season, remember to say "Mele Kalikimaka" and share the aloha spirit with those around you.

Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment