Holiday traditions: Winter in Hawaii

Most people don’t think of Hawaii as having seasons, but it does.  They are just more subtle than in the less equatorial regions.  In winter the air is cooler.  Rain washes in and out in a matter of minutes.  Certain trees bloom, and others don’t.  The christmas tree bushes are loaded with bright red berries, perfect for making wreaths.

Every year in September or October my parents would plant roselle bushes.  Also called rosajamaica or jamaica, roselle is a relative of hibiscus, and what you are drinking when you have hibiscus tea.  You also see roselle tea in taqueries.

By December the red stems of the roselle bushes would be laden with fat red rosettes, ready to be boiled and sweetened with honey to make the most delicious, bright pinky-red seasonal drink.

Some years we would have so much roselle that we would string them into garlands to wrap around the tree.



Storms are more frequent in December, meaning that the streams around my parents farm would swell with water, and come rushing down in big brown torrents.  If it stopped raining, and the streams weren’t too big, we would go swimming in them, or ride boogie boards down the rapids.

Me and mum in a storm swollen stream

All the rain and storms would mean that everything grew like mad, so the valleys and hills would be lush and green, but the gardens would need lots of weeding.

The Naiad and I do barefoot weeding on a wet day. At least I escaped the hat!

With the slightly cooler air, my dad would make us wear wool sweaters and hats outside on cooler days (read, days under 20 degrees celcius!), but we rebelled at shoes.

Making a little paper-tree teepee. This time I got stuck with sandals

In addition to renewing the land, the storms would sweep the beaches clean of footprints.

Mr Dreamy leaves the only set of footprints on a grey day

Bigger storms would wash branches and mud down in the streams, and the beaches would be full of flotsam.

Stream flotsam on the beach

Rainstorms often cleared at the end of the day, leaving soaking sand, but blue skies.

A towel and a rugby ball on wet sand at the end of the day


  1. Thanks for the glimpses into Hawai’ian life, Leimomi! It couldn’t be more different than life on a Midwestern farm. Hard to believe we’re from the same country. 🙂

    Keep it up!

  2. jackiead says

    Love, your stories of the Hawaiian traditions. Did your parents and grandparents grow-up on Hawaii too? Merry Christmas

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