Today, Thanksgiving in Hawaii is celebrated on the same day as the rest of America. However, during ancient times on the Big Island, way before the Puritans and Indians sat down to their first feast, the native Hawaiians had thanks-giving festivals of their own.
Ancient Offerings of Thanks
These celebrations commemorated a booming harvest and lasted an entire season. “Makahiki,” as it was called, ran from November through February (when rain prevented labor) with ceremonies honoring the god, Lono. Peace was commanded throughout the tribes during these months. In place of the usual fighting, surfing and boxing competitions were held to keep the warring natives occupied, along with tons of feasting. Each district’s chief (alii) and commoners (makaainana) offered vegetables, fish and pork at an altar on the boundary of each land division. Then the district’s warlord would collect the offerings for an enormous feast and ceremonial dances.
Happy New Year & Thanksgiving
As a gesture of solidarity with the U.S., in 1849 King Kamehameha III named a thanks-giving holiday on December 31. Since the end of November was already celebrated for La Kuokoa, Hawaii’s Independence Day, the Hawaiian Thanksgiving was slated for New Year’s Eve instead. This holiday included worship services and lively luaus.
Today’s Hawaiian-style Thanksgiving
Now, Thanksgiving on the Big Island is celebrated in November, just like the rest of America, with a couple of differences. Instead of roasting our turkey, we might prepare it in an imu, an underground oven where food is cooked by hot stones and vegetation. Candied yams and sage dressing might be replaced by poke, poi, gon lo mein, sushi or a spam casserole. Substitute pumpkin with custard pie for dessert! Instead of an immense spread around the dining table and watching football afterward, we might be found giving thanks around a beach picnic table and boogie boarding in the ocean.
Regardless of how you celebrate Thanksgiving, as a Big Island real estate agent, I wish you, your family and friends a happy turkey day! If you’re interested in making a Hawaiian style Thanksgiving a tradition in your family, you can find contact information below for Big Island real estate. We have Hawaii homes for sale featuring the dreamy island lifestyle you crave.
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