Merry Christmas: Sounds of Hawaii

During Christmas season palm trees are decorated with lights in the Normandy Isle neighborhood in Miami Beach, Florida, USAWe checked in this week to find out more about how Christmas happens in Hawaii. One of the topics that came up in our conversation with Siobhan was music.  The same familiar carols, hymns, and holiday songs are heard throughout the islands.  White Christmas drifts out of the speakers right there under the twinkle lit palm trees and Winter Wonderland is heard at the beach side pig roast.  But there are some differences too, like the Hawaiian Twelve Days of Christmas. For most Americans the Hawaiian Christmas song is Mele Kalikimaka.

Hawaiia Santa


This ukulele driven Christmas classic was written in 1949 but Robert Alex Anderson, known for his uniquely Hawaiian sounds.  The song gathered lots of interest and many fans from the start.  The popular 1950 radio recording featured Bing Crosby & the Andrew Sisters.  The song’s name is known as the Hawaiian way to say Merry Christmas.  Not entirely true. It is a translation, of sorts. To get the whole story behind the name we go back to 1778 when Christmas first came to the Islands with the arrival of Captain Cook.  The holiday did not catch on immediately.  It would not become wide-spread until the arrival of New England missionaries in the 1820s.  These missionaries helped to translate the language and to create a written version of the Island tongue.  The words Merry and Christmas were spoken by the Hawaiian natives and due to the differences in language sounded like Mele Kalikimaka.  The terms are a Hawaiian phonetic translation of the English phrase.  Simple.  The lyrics are simple too- basically a repetition of the same two stanzas:
     Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
     On a bright Hawaiian Christmas day
     That’s the island greeting that we send to you
     From the land where palm trees sway

     Here we know Christmas will be green & bright
     The sun to shine by day & all the stars at night
     Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way 
     To say Merry Christmas to you

It really is a happy, cheery little song.  Listen to it’s carefree lilt and imagine a warm breezy holiday picnic on the beach.  This version by Bette Midler should help set the mood.  Aloha!!

HNY HawaiiI learned the Hawaiian phrase for Happy New Year too- Hau’oli Makahiki Hou.  The phrase grew from the period or resting and fasting with 4 months of no war and no conflicts.  The term Makahiki translates to year.  Han’oli translate to Happy, and Makahiki has a track on year.  I will be looking into more foreign language faves in our area for Christmas.

Peep Show and Christmas

ChristmasPeepsPeeps, the sugary, marshmallow treat, are a part of just about every Easter basket, on par with candy canes at Christmas.  Jeremy sent a link to The Washington Post’s seventh annual Peeps diorama contest asking me why The Yule Log failed to enter this year.  I could remind him that I sent an article to him LAST year about a similar Carroll County Arts Center Peeps contest.  We can agree that great minds think alike–just on different schedules.  You can expect The Yule Log will be making a Christmas-themed diorama in 2014.

Meanwhile, what will our diorama be called?  Merry Peep-ness?  Santa and his eight tiny Peep-deer?  T’was the Night Before Peep-ness. . .The Peepcracker Ballet . . .The possibilities are endless. The Peeps website lists all of the annual contests, so I’ve marked the page here.  I’m expecting Jeremy to do one of his post-holiday raids on the local stores to stock up on the leftover Peeps. Better yet, I think we should stock up next year on all of the holiday peeps–the neon green trees, the brown gingerbread men, and the white snowmen Peeps.  I had better check the diorama rules to see if ANY kind of Peep is an OK kind of peep–or do we need to stick to lavender bunnies and yellow chicks?

I “LIKED” Peeps on Facebook and took the Peeps personality quiz. (I didn’t get results, but the questions were clever.)  Lo and behold! Peeps has a web page dedicated to Christmas Peeps recipes.  With my belly full of the candy I raided from Roger and C.J.’s Easter baskets, I’m not too motivated to bake anything with marshamallow Peeps, but that’s not to say that I won’t be ready tomorrow.

Santa and Christmas – Gangnam Style

5:45 a.m.  A blur of dancing Santas on the gym television screens caught my eye.  From Australia, a group of 150 were dressed as Santas and dancing Gangnam style on the deck of the Australian naval ship HMAS Ballarat in Sydney Harbour.

The purpose was to raise awareness for a charity fun run next month, where organizers expect upwards of 5,000 Santas in Sydney and 25,000 throughout Australia.  Through this huge event, Variety, the Children’s Charity, delivers millions to help poor, disadvantaged, and handicapped children.

No podcast today!  The whole house smells like mint and chocolate because I’m baking candy cane topped brownies tonight to prepare for our tree designing party tomorrow. (My first “from scratch” brownies.  Recipe from Sugar Plum Blog here.) We’re gathering at Jeremy’s house to practice setting up our trees for the Kennedy Kreiger Festival of Trees, and we plan to have the entire group help us to record our weekly podcast.  More tomorrow!

Podcast #34- 111 Days to Go!

Podcast #34- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Candy Taste Test!

This week we start with a review of some of our blogs from last week.  Then it is on to the two big things for week 34.  First is the reveal of the decision for our Festival of Trees entries.  Our large tree will be decorated as an I Spy tree and our small tree will be covered in decorations made from recycled Christmas cards.  We are VERY excited about this endeavor.  We close with a taste test of three candy recipes we tried out this morning.  Listen in for our first hand reactions and descriptions of the process.  Recipes are linked to the thumbnails below.  Enjoy!

Rhode Island Potato Candy
Irish Sweet Potato Candy

Ready for Some Candy?

Last week Natalie and I discussed taking another visit to the kitchen to make some holiday treats.  We had so much fun when we made shortbread and are ready to go again.  Hopefully our efforts will result in some delicious results (no chocolate shortbread reactions please).  On Monday we will be creating some Christmas Confections.  Initially we talked about making truffles but have decided to save that for the fall.  We searched some recipes and came up with a short list.  We picked a couple of recipes that will be good gifts and tasty treats.  There will be 3 items to taste and we’ll give you our first hand reactions to the production and our first taste during our podcast.  Tune in Monday to see what we’ve created.  Here’s a hint- Potatoes and rum are on my ingredients shopping list!


Podcast #33- 118 Days to Go!

Podcast #33- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Childhood wishes and Trees!

Natalie and I have a short dish on our conversation with the folks at the Festival of Trees.  As future “designers” for this year’s festival we might be part of some press for the event.  We also take a look at the week in review and then move into some good discussions on possible gifts related to your college students.  The Sears Wish Book and Christmas candy take a turn for talk (we’re making candy next Monday!!). We also beg some more for you to vote for our tree decoration theme.  Go to the Yule Log entry from August 18th to cast your vote before the Saturday deadline.

Spangler Candy Canes and Missed Opportunities

As we gear up for Christmas in fewer than four months, companies that make Christmas-specific items are in full swing.  Spangler Candy Company in Bryan, Ohio churns out 2.7 million candy canes each day.  I am regretting the fact that during our summer vacation we spent the night in Harrison Lake State Park, a mere 18 miles away from the factory, but we did not visit the company and take a tour of the factory and museum.  Disappointed!

The Spangler Company also makes Dum Dums, Circus Peanuts, Jelly Belly candies and Smarties.  Think of the missed opportunity.

Established in 1906, over the next 40 years, the company acquired and began manufacturing these staples of American candy identity.  Although candy canes were invented long before the Spangler company was founded and were manufactured in the U.S. in Detroit, Michigan by the A-Z Candy Company, Spangler acquired the candy cane business in 1954.

In the FAQ’s section, the proper storage of candy canes is NOT in the freezer or refrigerator because the moisture content is too high. They are best stored in an airtight bag in a cool dry place.  According to the manufacturer, the candy canes have a shelf life of 36 months!

A tour of the company website includes crafts and recipes that can be made with all of their products, including candy canes. I was disappointed by the few crafts that are suggested on the site because candy canes can be used in so many more ways (beyond just eating them).  I am going to make it my mission to see that Spangler broadens the website to include more candy cane fun.

What is your favorite candy cane craft or recipe?