Chinese New Year
St Patrickʻs Day
Prince Kūhiō Day
St. Patrick's Day
Prince Kūhiō Day
Cinco de Mayo
Hawaiʻi Statehood Day
All Saints Day
All Souls Day
Rising of the Pleiades
St. Nicholas Day
Pearl Harbor Day
New Year's Eve
~Editiorial by Leilehua Yuen
It’s the Christmas season? Bah! Humbug! Nope. Not at all. Not for me, anyway. In my calendar, this season is Advent. It begins four Sundays before Christmas, and is a time of preparation for The Christ’s birth. The Christmas season begins on 25 December and lasts for twelve days (someone wrote a song about that), ending on the eve of Epiphany. Christmas (The Mass of Christ) celebrates the birth of the Christ, while Epiphany celebrates the coming of the Christ to the Gentiles.
What on Earth does all that have to do with Christmas in Hawai`i? Ah, gentle reader, curl up in your Christmas jammies, pour yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa, perhaps a marshmallow or a dash of rum, and I shall relate the story of how Christmas came to our islands.
Myself, having been baptised into the Anglican Communion, I have an affinity for the multitudinous festivals and holy days of that church. Surprisingly, to me, the first Christian men, the most prominant of whom was Anglican, known to have spent that day in the Hawaiian Islands left it completely unremarked.
On December 23, 1778, Capt. James Cook, off Hawai`i Islands’s Cape Kumukahi, found his ship, HMS DISCOVERY, becalmed and left “to the mercy of a great swell which hove us fast towards the island, which was not two leagues distant.” The crew did manage to get the DISCOVERY away from land, and then, “while we lay as it were becalmed, several of the Islanders came off with hogs, fowls, fruit and roots to exchange. We got out of one Canoe a Goose which was about the size of a Muscovy Duck; its plumage was dark-gray, and the bill and legs black.” By evening, the ship’s company had bought and bartered for everything the Hawaiians had brought along, which was “full as much as we could dispense with.” They then set sail and at midnight began to watch for the HMS RESOLUTION, expecting that the sister ship would see and signal them, but “she was not to be seen.”
On the morning of Christmas Eve, Cook wrote in his log, “At this time the weather was hazy, so that we could not see far, and being past the NE. part of the Island, I was tempted to stand on, till by the wind veering to the NE, we could not weather the land upon the other tack, consequently could not stand to the North to join or look for the DISCOVERY. At noon we were by observations in the latitude of 19°͈ 55ˈ North Longitude 20° ˈ East; the SE point of the Island bore [?] E. six leagues distant; the other extreme N 60 degrees W and the nearest shore two leagues.”
The next log entry is for 30 December. In 1778, there appear to be no mentions of the Christmas holiday in Cook’s log, or any of the others. Why?
Possibly, because the 18th century was hugely influenced by thomas Paine's work, The Age of Reason, and for some time religion took a back seat to logic. Possibly Cook, though Anglican, and the other officers of the mission did not feel noting a religious holiday pertinent to a scientific mission. Or perhaps they were too busy to take note. Or perhaps they had been somewhat influenced by the Protestant reforms. Possibly further research, and continuing to read the ship's logs, can shed light on their thoughts that day. But for now, all we know is that the first documented time Christians spent Christmas in Hawai`i, the day passed unremarked.
Leilehua Yuen was ordained in 1986 as a Lay Minister in the Episcopal Church, and received her certificate in Hilo, Hawaiʻi through the Education for Ministry extension program of the Universiy of the South at Sewanee. She later studied with esteemed kupuna "Aunty" Nona Beamer, and now practices as a traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioner, kumu, kahu, and cultural historian.
January 1 - Most people in Hawaiʻi celebrate the first day of the Gegorian Calendar, often with fireworks and parties. At midnight between the old year and the new, the cacophany and smoke can be overwhelming!
End of January
Movable - Mid-January to Late February
Chinese New Year or, more accurately, Lunar New Year, is based on an ancient lunisolar calendar that uses astronomical observations of the sunʻs longitude and the moon's phases. It occurs two new moons before the first day of spring. This means that the date of the lunar new year changes in relation to the Gregorian calendar now used internationally for civil time.Chinese New Year is celebrated based on Beijing, China time. This year the new moon falls on Feb 8 in both Hawai`i and China. The new moon before the first day of spring occurs on March 20 this year; the new moon before that occurs on March 8. There are many traditional activities and foods associated with the holiday. Learn more about them here.
Week Beginning Easter Sunday
15th Day After Spring Equinox (April 4 or 5)
Last Monday in May
June through August
June 20 or 21
Fist Monday in September
September 22 or 23
Second Monday of October
November 8 (In 2016)
Long before Christmas was celebrated in Hawai`i, we had our own winter holiday - the Makahiki. Makahiki can be a confusing word. It means "year," "new year," and also refers to the four month long season which heralds the new year in the Hawaiian calendar. In ancient times, as the old year drew to a close, the priests associated with certain temples on the western side of each inhabited Hawaiian island would watch for the appearance of Makali`i - the Pleiades - a star cluster which appears in the evening sky in our October. When the priests could finally distinguish Makali`i in the eastern sky shortly after sunset, they announced the next new moon would begin the Makahiki season. This was a time when warfare and most work were prohibited and the people celebrated with games and sports.
Movable, fourth Thursday in November
Movable, the four Sundays before Christmas
December 21 or 22