> Ramona Kaloi, who is of Hawaiian heritage, said Christmas is pretty much celebrated the same way there as in the rest of the U.S., with a few Hawaiian touches thrown in.
Christmas was not part of Hawaiian culture, but a holiday brought over by missionaries, Kaloi observed. She said other holidays are actually much bigger celebrations, like Hawaiian Independence Day on Nov. 28, or May Day there called called "Lei Day," celebrated on May 1.
"I may cook and decorate differently, but there aren't really different Hawaiian traditions for Christmas," she said.
Evergreen Christmas trees are available in the islands and Santa Claus does make appearances.
"But you usually see pictures of Santa on the beach in shorts with a lei on with hula girls dressed in red and green," she laughed.
At home in Madras with her husband, Dave Jordan, and daughter Pali, Kaloi said she likes to cook kalua pig for the Christmas meal. The traditional main course for luaus, kalua pig is wrapped in banana leaves and slow baked in the ground.
To try something different this Thanksgiving, Kaloi said they baked a turkey as well as kalua pig in the ground and had friends over to enjoy it. Instead of a whole pig, she said they get a hind quarter, since they don't have a luau-sized crowd to feed.
"I even have a recipe for kalua pig made in a crock pot," she confessed, for those times when they're hankering for roast pork, but don't feel like digging a pit and going through all the traditional preparations.
Crockpot Kalua Pig
1 pork okole (butt or shoulder roast)
4 cups apple cider (not apple juice)
1/4 cup liquid smoke
Put pork, cider and liquid smoke in the crock pot and cook all day. Shred meat and serve with rice and cooked cabbage.
Salmon is another dish at her Christmas table, along with a combined potato and macaroni salad. "Hawaiians don't really eat green salad, but they have potato and macaroni salad all mixed together. I've never seen it done like that anywhere else," she said.
She has a Christmas wreath and other typical decorations in their home, but adds a Hawaiian flavor by decorating with sea shells and using Hawaiian wrapping paper.
"I buy lots of Hawaiian Christmas paper. It had patterns like are on Hawaiian quilts in red and white, blue and white, or silver and blue," Kaloi related.