So I am back at work and happy to be so. I will be coming out with two new designs later this month: another Small Kine Thing - Hau'oli la hanau and another chart in the Hawaiian alphabet series (letter to be determined). My goal is to print at least one new chart every month this year. I am working on the samplers for Hawaii (the Big Island) and Maui and hope to have those out soon.
written by Deb Aoki and published in the Honolulu Advertiser 12/28/1997.
While the rest of the US celebrates the New Year with champagne, poppers, and the dropping ball in Times Square, Hawaii celebrates its own way, with a blend of Asian, Pacific and Western observances. The result is a holiday rich with unique sights, sounds, and tastes. Here are some of the local ways in which New Year's is celebrated:
Good Luck for your home
Many homes will greet the new year with a kadomatsu ("gate pine"), an artful arrangement of cut bamboo and pine branches placed near the doorway. Originally a Japanese tradition, bamboo symbolizes strength against adversity, and the sharp pine needles keep away bad luck as well as promise long life. With all these fortunate associations, kadomatsus are generally considered a protective presence for the home.
Raw fish to rice cakes
Sharing and eating food is a big part of the Hawaii holiday experience. A local New Year's spread can include anything from baked ham and chicken adobo (a salty-sour chicken stew from the Philippines), to gau gee mein (Chinese noodles with crispy pork dumplings), and andagi (Okinawan fried doughnuts). Other edibles include:
Raw fish may not be to your taste, but if you conquer your squeamishness, you'll find that this high-quality, ultra-fresh fish has a smooth texture and subtle meaty flavor. It's not at all "fishy".
Sweet rice cakes are an indispensable food/New Year's decoration in many Island homes. Two large white rice cakes are topped by a tangerine and placed in front of the family shrine as tribute to the ancestors. Mochi is traditionally made by pounding steamed glutinous rice in a stone or wood mortar. The hot blob of rice is turned by a courageous assistant, while the pounder heaves a wooden mallet, striking down heavily on the mound of rice dough. The pounder and the turner must find a working rhythm; if they don't, mashed fingers is the unintended result. Other participants take turns pounding or shaping the finished mochi into circular cakes and enclosing sweet azuki bean paste in the center.
Soups, noodles, and other foods
Hopes for the coming year are also symbolized by your first meal of the new year. O-zoni, or mochi soup, and soba (buckwheat noodles) are popular in Japanese households, as is jook (rice gruel) in Chinese homes, and even pigs feet soup in some Okinawan homes. Ingredients for these soups can have significance beyond just tasting good; for example, long noodles can symbolize hopes for long life, and the sticky rice in o-zoni symbolized family togetherness.
Things that boom in the night
When Hawaii celebrates the New Year, it does so with a bang. Fireworks, especially firecrackers, are a big part of most Islander's festivities.
Hawaii's obsession with "home-blown" pyrotechnics has origins in Chinese culture. According to folklore, the noise and flashing lights are meant to scare away demons, or bad luck in general. Even the red-colored debris from the exploded firecrackers is considered good luck.