Celebrating Christmas With Hawaiian Dancing

I was raised in a culture where dance was considered a second language. Hawaii, my first home, truly epitomizes how dance can speak to the minds and hearts of many and stir emotions of the soul. It is much more than a form of entertainment, and often will tell a story through the graceful movement of the body and hands.

The Hula was originally a part of the religious traditions in the Pacific Islands. It was used to honor and entertain royalty. Today, many of its sacred religious choreography is still danced to tell stories of their ancient chiefs and gods.  While the hula is still a very popular form of entertainment in venues all around the island, much of the dance has been redeemed to express worship to the one true God.

Every year in Hawaii, a huge event called the Merrie Monarch Festival is held to celebrate the dances of the islands. The event draws dancers from all across the country to compete for coveted trophies in each of the different forms of dance. Visitors to the islands, and residents are treated to musicians and dancers who rehearse all year-long to participate in this festival.

The costumes that are worn, are as beautiful as the dancers that wear them. The fragrant flower leis, and colorful dresses move in perfect harmony to the melodies and graceful hands of the dancers. Many observers who watch , may not understand the meaning of each motion, but yet, they are captivated by the story that is being told.

 

I learned to dance from a very young age. Born and raised in Hawaii, learning the music and dances was a natural part of my growing up there. Every family event, whether, birthdays, anniversaries or weddings, included music and dance. The Holidays were no exception. Christmas and New Years is always celebrated with lots of food, the music of guitars and ukuleles and beautifully arrayed hula dancers. I miss the islands at Christmas time.

My daughter, Nicole, the picture you see above, is a beautiful dancer and is part of a group of dancers who minister at the church she attends and in the community. Below is a short video of she and the group dancing at The Maui Mall. They are dancing to the song, A Maui Christmas. Nicole is in the middle of the front row.

 

There are many Hawaiian Christmas Songs, one of which has been heard far beyond the island borders. Perhaps you have heard of it. The name of the song is Melekalikimaka (my spell check is going crazy right now). It simply means Merry Christmas. Some of the words go like this:

Melekalikimaka, is the thing to say

On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,

It’s the Hawaiian greeting that I send to you,

From the land where palm trees sway.

With that, I will close with this thought, even if you may not do the hula, everyone can do a “happy dance”, so dance like no one is watching. From my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Please don’t forget to leave a comment.

 

 

 

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Real or Artificial

Do you have a “real” tree or artificial one this Christmas? This can be a loaded question for some. There are differing opinions of what constitutes as an “authentic” Christmas when choosing your tree. I personally would prefer the fragrance of a real tree, however, apartment dwelling has changed the premise of my choices. Apparently, an artificial tree is more conducive to smaller dwellings that do not allow many options for disposal of a real tree. Ask me how I know….ok, I will tell you my short story.

I went from a 2200 square foot home, to a 900 square foot apartment. And, while having a small, live, potted tree was an option, I just cannot have Christmas without a massive, fragrant, tree occupying a third of my living room. So, I convinced my husband to go shopping for a “real” tree. We found one we liked at a local market, strapped it to the top of our car, and proudly went home to put it up. Everything was fine until first, carrying up a flight of stairs, then trying to clean up all the needles that dropped from the tree onto…..well…..everywhere. Then, rearranging the furniture to accommodate the tree that now had taken up most of the room, made me second guess my opting to “go green”. But, in all, after lighting and decorating, I was happy. Until, with still two more weeks to go before Christmas, the tree started to dry up and die, in spite of my diligence to keep it watered and nourished. You could not walk by it without wiping out an entire branch of pine needles. We made it to Christmas, but let me tell you, I was taking that tree down the day after. It was so dry, there was no way to simply carry it across the room and out the door without making a horrific mess. So, while my husband was at work, I got his wire cutters and snipped every branch off so I could toss it into a garbage bag. When my husband got home, he had a mere bare stump to carry out to the dumpster. Yes, I declared that future Christmases would include an artificial tree, and so be it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the thought of a real tree. In fact, every time we pass a vehicle with a beautiful “real” tree strapped on top of it, and the happy smiles of the family in the car, knowing that Christmas was about to be put up in their homes, I smile, and then, I snap out of it.

Why do we even have Christmas trees? I bet there are many different reasons that the diverse global population has for having a tree at Christmas time. Every family has its own stories of either going out into the woods to find that perfect tree, or just the plethora of tree lots that make it fun to shop for one. But the history of the Christmas tree dates back to ancient times when the early Romans would adorn their homes with evergreen branches as a symbol of life. (Hence, I suppose, real might be better for demonstrating this) It took the Renaissance era to display the tree in homes as a symbol of Christmas. There are many theories and stories relating to this iconic part of Christmas, but I prefer to enjoy the simple meaning…..it is a part of the decor that families choose to have as part of their own expression of the season.

The tree is symbolic of the place where gifts are stored til Christmas morning, or the where we can hang beautiful lights and ornaments. I read somewhere, long ago, that when you look at the tree, it is pointing upward, to remind us of the fact that it is not what is under tree that matters, but the birth of a child long ago that was and still is the ultimate gift of the season.

It does not matter if your tree is real or artificial. What matters is if your heart is real, if the love you have for your family and friends is real, and if your faith is real.  What matters is the family that gather around it. May the blessings of the holidays be abundant in all of your lives.

As always, I ask that you leave your comments below. Thank you and God bless all of you.

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For the Love a Snowman

I look forward to decorating for the holidays every year. I toggle between the traditional red, white and green colors of the season, and the rustic country look with a raffia garland and wooden ornaments. This year, I actually went for a more elegant bronze and gold look. But no matter what I choose, I make sure my snowman decor is incorporated. Every year, at the end of the season, I look for bargains on snowmen ornaments of all kinds.

I don’t know why I have such an infatuation for them. There is a book written by Bob Eckstein, on The History of the Snowman. He really did a lot of research and his book is filled with so many interesting facts about the Snowman and it’s beginnings. I would have personally never thought that my beloved snowman actually had a part in history dating back to the Middle Ages. I love how he relates to snow as “free art supplies dropped from the sky”, and, how famous artists, like Michelangelo, was asked to sculpt a snowman in the courtyard of the ruler of Florence, Italy. Wow! the snowman really does have a rich history.

But, for me, they are simply fun and happy, and they bring me joy when I look at them hanging on my tree or gracing my family room in all of the many forms I have collected over the years. I have an entire Snowman Family that stands around my fireplace, as well as smaller stuffed ones sitting around the room, just hanging out. I have snowman candle holders, nutcrackers, snow globes, and wood wall decor. I love them all. I feel sad when I need to pack them all away to wait a year before being allowed to show themselves again. (no, I’m not crazy)

Who doesn’t remember the famous children’s Christmas song, Frosty the Snowman. He, the song says, was a jolly, happy, soul. He knew his “life” was for a season, and it did not bother him at all to have eyes of coal, or a carrot for a nose. He danced around and brought joy to all the boys and girls who believed in the reality of him. We could learn a small lesson from this fantasy-like character.

We too have been created by a loving God who shaped and formed us from within our mother’s womb. We too, live for a season, however long that may be for each of us. Our eyes are not coals, and are noses are not carrots, yet sometimes, we behave like they are. We sometimes choose to be blinded by the good in others and we forget to inhale the sweet fragrance that surrounds us in our lives, e.g. the scent of our mom or grandmother when she gives us a hug, or the sight of a beautiful, snow-capped mountain in the distance. We need to dance more, feel and appreciate the freedoms that we have, more. We need to acknowledge the hands that have shaped us throughout life and the creator that always knew we had the potential to love and bring joy to others.

Am I being too philosophical? Perhaps, I just want to provoke you to be able to see how an inanimate object, and even a fictional character like a snowman, can stir us into looking at life a little differently. The holidays can be a stressful time. We can worry about finances, what gifts to give who, being alone, or feeling the obligation to be at some party or event. All of these things rob us of the simple joys the season can bring.

Whether it is the story of a simple snowman, or the laughter of your grandchildren, dancing with glee to all their favorite Christmas songs, I encourage you to have a happy jolly soul and just be thankful that when the season comes to an end, we will not be melting into the ground. Right?

God Bless you one and all! Please leave your comments below.

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