Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Catholic History of Christmas in Hawaii

Archival photo of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace

Picture source: Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu

Local author Bob Sigall wrote a very interesting column last Friday about how Christmas was first celebrated in the Islands. Actually, the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas. It was in fact the sailors who in 1786 celebrated in a festive way, the birth of Christ.

Picture source

...Capt. George Dixon had a pig roasted. The crew made pies, and grog was mixed with coconut milk. The crew toasted friends and family at home in England, and the miles between the two island kingdoms were bridged for a moment. It was Hawaii's first Christmas dinner...

...Catholics first came to Hawaii in 1826 and did celebrate Christmas. Their spirit slowly infected the missionary wives, who, by 1837, began to join the festivities. They made quiet shopping trips to town where local shopkeepers had begun stocking their shelves with Christmas toys. They talked about what they should cook and whom they should invite to the coming holiday dinner...

On Christmas Eve the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace was illuminated with wreaths of light. Inside, the altars were beautifully decorated, and more than a thousand candles were lit. The tree at the Fort Street Church carried more than 200 small lights, and its branches were burdened with gifts for more than 70 students, with no two gifts alike. Midnight Christmas services concluded, then the gun batteries at Punchbowl Crater were fired.

The king and the bishop began their slow procession to the palace. Behind them walked a choir, and 20 torch-bearers lit the way for the members of the congregation.

Throughout the streets of Honolulu the procession marched in slow cadence, singing Christmas carols. Christmas had come to Hawaii.

Source: Honolulu Advertiser - First Christmas in Hawaii was Celebrated by Sailors

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