Wednesday, September 14, 2011


   Russian Christmas is celebrated later than in other countries, including the Untied States and most of Europe.  Most Russian Christians belong to the Orthodox Church.  The Orthodox Church uses the old Julian calendar to schedule holidays.  Since they use a different calendar, their Christmas celebrations are 13 days later, on January 7th.
   After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, as were other religious celebrations.  Christmas was forbidden to be openly celebrated for 75 years.  In 1992, Christmas was once again allowed to be openly observed.
   Today, Christmas is once again celebrated in grand fashion.  Cathedrals are filled with incense, and the faithful participate in all night masses, amidst with painted icons of Saints.

   The Christmas Eve meal is served after evening mass.  The Christmas Eve feast is also a meatless meal.
   The table is covered by a white table cloth, symbolizing Christ's swaddling clothes.  Hay is brought forth as a reminder of the poverty into which Christ was born.  A tall white candle is placed in the center of the table, symbolic of Christ, "The Light of the World".  A large round loaf of Lenter bread, symbolic of Christ.  "The Bread of Life", is placed next to the candle.
   The Traditional Christmas Eve meal includes 12 main dishes, for Jesus' 12 Apostles.  Typically Russians enjoy foods such as: fish, borsch (beet soup), millet-stuffed cabbage, dried fruit soup, Kutia (whole wheat porridge with honey and poppy seeds).  Kutia is a traditional Christmas dish which is meant to promote long life, unity and good fortune during the Christmas season.


   The father of the family leads in "The Lord's Prayer".  The Lord's Prayer is followed by prayers of thanksgiving for past, present and future blessings.  After the prayers,  the father of the family proclaims "Christ is Born" and the family responds "Glorify Him".
   The mother of the family blesses each person, by putting a cross on their forehead with honey, saying, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may you have sweetness and many good things in life".
   The Russian Christmas Tree is called "Yelka".  The Yelka is a traditional Christmas symbol in Russia.  Most Russian's decorate their Christmas tree with lights and flowers.  The flowers on the tree are real and silk.

   St. Nicholas used to deliver Christmas gifts to the children, but Grandfather Frost took over in honor of the New Year during communist rule.  Grandfather Frost continues to deliver the Christmas gifts to the children, even though communism has fallen.  Instead of a Santa's red suit, Grandfather Frost wears a blue suit.  Grandfather Frost is accompanied by a handmaiden who hands out the presents.
   The legend of Babouschka has returned to Russia.  Babouschka is said to be a woman who helped to direct the Three Kinds to Bethlehem to visit the Baby Jesus.  She was invited to join the Wise Men, but declined because of the cold.  She changed her mind, but by that time the Wise Men wree gone.  Babouschka continues to spend Three Kings Day delivering presents and she searches for Jesus' crib.


   Aloha Festival is Hawai'i’s premier cultural showcase, a celebration of Hawai'i’s music, dance and history intended to preserve the unique island traditions.


   HONOLULU’S 65 year-old Aloha Festivals is the oldest and largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the United States. What is known today as Aloha Festivals was created in 1946, as Aloha Week - a cultural celebration of Hawai'i’s music, dance and history intended to perpetuate our unique traditions. A group of former Jaycees - known as the Jaycees Old-timers of Hawai'i - had the vision to create a public celebration to honor Hawai'i’s cosmopolitan heritage, yet created a celebration which has itself become a state-wide tradition.
   Aloha Week became Aloha Festivals in 1991. Aloha Festivals has become a celebration of our Hawaiian culture. Integrated into the culture are many island traditions and customs of each of the Hawaiian islands. Thousands of volunteers labor together each year to stage the events, which are attended statewide by nearly a million people Eit is a festival truly of the people of Hawai'i by the people of Hawai'i. The festivals are funded through the sale of Aloha Festivals ribbons and merchandise, and via corporate and private donations.


   The mission of Aloha Festivals is “to foster the Aloha Spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawai'i”. Aloha Festivals was first held in 1946 as Aloha Week. It has become a celebration of our Hawaiian Culture integrated with the traditions and cultures of each of the islands through music, dance, cuisine and art. Each year, hundreds of volunteers labor to stage the events, which are enjoyed by nearly one million people.
   Aloha Festivals is funded through appropriate funds from the Hawai'i Tourism    Authority, corporate sponsorships, private donations, as well as through the sale of Aloha Festivals ribbons and merchandise.


Mele 'Ailana: Celebrate Island Music

   The unparalleled beauty of Hawaii, its vibrant people and proud heritage have been the inspiration of mele - chants and songs - for scores of generations. Whether in olelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language) or English, island music is an artful expression of Hawaii's unique way of life as experienced by kamaaina (locals) and malihini (visitors) from around the world.
   Contemporary genres of island music often weave elements of tradition with modern trends and influences. European-introduced ukulele and guitar combine with ancient instruments and state-of-the-art technology. Add to that the rich voices of talented island artists and you get a kind of musical magic that soothes the spirit. Nahenahe - meaning sweet and melodious - is a term synonymous with island music.
   E ho 'olohe a e nanea mai i ka leo nahenahe o Hawaii pae 'aina - 'o ia no ia 'o Mele 'Ailana. Experience and enjoy the sweet voice of Hawaii.


2011 Royal Court Investiture Thursday, September 1, 2011, 3:00pm Hilton Hawaiian Village
Traditional chant and hula highlight this annual event as the 2011 Alii receive their royal symbols of reign during ceremonies on the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Free admission.

2011 Opening Ceremony

Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:30pm

Royal Hawaiian Center, Royal Grove
This ceremony marks the official beginning of the 2011 Aloha Festivals event on Oahu. Traditional hula and chant introduce our Royal Court on the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Center's Royal Grove. Free admission.

2011 Waikiki Hoolaulea

Saturday, September 17, 2011, 7:00pm

On Kalakaua Avenue between Lewers & Kapahulu Avenues
Celebrating its 59th year and the 2011 theme of Island Music, the largest block party will kick off with the arrival of the Royal Court. Multiple stages of entertainment, lots of food, lei vendors and hula crafters will be spread along 12 city blocks of the world famous Kalakaua Avenue. Free admission.

2011 Aloha Festivals Floral Parade

Saturday, September 24, 2011, 9:00am

From Ala Moana Park, along Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park
A colorful equestrian procession of female and male pau riders, extravagant floats with cascades of Hawaiian flowers, hula Halau and marching bands will brighten Kalakaua Avenue from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park. This is a "must see" event! Free admission.