Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
6 New Year’s Traditions in Hawaii
Hawaii is home to a culturally and ethnically diverse group of people who have created a unique set of New Year's traditions. Here are a few of the most popular.
1) Mochi Pounding
Mochi rice pounding is done the old fashioned way with a big wooden hammer called an usu. Mochi is a type of Japanese rice cake made with sticky rice that is repeatedly pounded. Making mochi requires at least two people, one person to mercilessly pound the rice and another to roll and wet it to the right consistency. It's hand molded into mounded patties which are symbols of good luck for the New Year. Here’s a video of people demonstrating the process.
2) Fireworks to scare off evil spirits
It all started in China back in the seventh century and has become a worldwide phenomenon. Hawaii residents LOVE fireworks. Maybe too much. The widespread use of firecrackers was a bit overwhelming for the Millennium celebration, so regulations were put in place to help limit the amount we can set off. Pictured is a string of approx 4,582 firecrackers. The people at Pacific Fireworks said this particular item was one of their their most popular products.
3) Eating Sashimi for good luck
Japanese for sliced raw fish, most typically tuna or ahi, sashimi is easily the most popular “Good Luck” food that locals must have to help celebrate the New Year. Demand for sashimi-grade ahi is so great that sometimes the price skyrockets to as much as $40 per pound just before New Year’s. It’s not just a Japanese tradition anymore. It’s become so popular that almost everyone seems to enjoy the tradition. That and it’s delicious, so any excuse to eat sashimi is a good one.
4) New Year’s in Hawaii is like an all-you-can-eat buffet of good luck foods.
Almost every culture likes to usher in the New Year with different foods that are believed to represent good luck, and Hawaii is among the most diverse states in the union. We also have the largest share of multi-racial Americans as well, so there is a lot of cross-pollination when it comes to enjoying food. Japanese celebrate by eating ozoni soup; Portuguese prepare bean soup; Filipinos eat pancit (long noodles); Chinese make different kinds of dumplings; Koreans eat a rice cake soup called duk kuk; and most people enjoy eating almost all of it.
5) Fukubukuro (Lucky Bag)
Another Japanese New Year tradition that has become popular here in Hawaii. Merchants make grab bags filled with unknown random contents and sell them for a substantial discount, usually 50% or more off the list price of the items contained within (all sales are final). It gets more and more popular every year, and we have a LOT of sales going on this year at some of our most popular shopping centers like Ala Moana Center, International Market Place, and Royal Hawaiian Center.
6) Large family gatherings at the beach
Average winter temperature is a sunny 78 degrees, and the ocean is 74 degrees as well, which makes this the perfect place to ring in the New Year at the beach. The most popular beach for New Years is Ala Moana Beach Park. This 100-acre park has a wide, gold-sand beach that is over a half-mile long. It also has a large grassy area which makes it a perfect place for events, picnics, barbecues, large family gatherings, and all sorts of other games and activities. The facilities include picnic tables, lifeguards, showers, restrooms, tennis courts, food concessions, and more.
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