Back in the early 1990s, when I was a first or second year Hawaiian language student at Maui Community College, I had a brief conversation with Keali‘i Reichel. I asked him if there was an explanation in the Hawaiian oral tradition about the times that it snowed on Haleakalā. He explained that the snow meant that Poli‘ahu, the snow goddess of Maunakea was visiting her sister Lilinoe, and that the snow was Poli‘ahu spreading her cape on the mountain. I replied, “hmmm, that’s not much to write a song about.” It was not one of my finer moments.
About 15 years later, while working with Kenneth Makuakāne on his first solo Hawaiian album, Makuakāne, I wrote “Ke Aloha Kalikimaka”. Normally Kenneth writes the music to my lyrics, but since he was so busy recording his album, I wrote the melody and chord changes to this myself.
Several months later, I heard through the grapevine that Keali‘i was working on a Christmas album, and sent him this, hoping that he might want to record it. At that point I had forgotten our conversation that occurred a decade and a half prior. It wasn’t until after he recorded it that I recalled that conversation, and notice that I had included a reference to Poli‘ahu visiting Haleakalā. Talk about serendipity. It appears on his release Maluhia, featuring a beautiful arrangement by Horace Dudoit of Ho‘okena, and string arrangement by Matt Catingub.
A few years later, some students from Kamehameha Schools choreographed a hula to it and performed it at their winter concert. It appears on YouTube.
This mele laments the fact that, like the eventual melting of the snow on Haleakalä, the “Christmas Spirit” fades after the holidays and people return to their normal ways of being. Every day could be like Christmas, if we wanted it to.
|Ke Aloha Kalikimaka|
|I ke ao ‘ana a‘e||In the breaking of day|
|I ke anu o kaiao||In the chill of early morning|
|I kipa ai ‘o Poli‘ahu||Poli‘ahu pays a visit|
|I ka luna o Haleakalā||To the summit of Haleakalā|
|Ia mauna i uhia||The mountain that is blanketed|
|i ka hau e pāhola nei||By the sparkling snow|
|Hehe‘e i ka pā mehana||That melts at the warmth|
|i ka lā nō a‘e ulu ai||As the sun rises above|
|E like nō a like||Let each and every day|
|Kēlā me kēia lā||Be exactly the same|
|Hau‘oli‘oli a maluhia||Joyous and tranquil across the world|
|I ke aloha Kalikimaka||In the spirit of Christmas|
|He wā nui lokomaika‘i||A time of complete goodness|
|A puni ka honua nei||Across the earth|
|Pōmaika‘i nō kākou||The people of the world are blessed|
|I ke aloha o ke Akua mau||By the love of the eternal God|