The Story Of Mele Kalikimaka

The Story Of Mele Kalikimaka

Ever wonder how this Christmas time standard came to be?

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At this point in the year, it is common to begin arguing with friends and family over whether or not it is a sane choice to be listening to Christmas music. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, one song has always stood out to me and has probably been a mystery to you as well. "Mele Kalikimaka," sung by the very embodiment of Christmas Music, at least to me, Bing Crosby.

In a world where I both experienced, and listened to a "Winter Wonderland" every Christmas, a song about sunny beaches on December 25th has always stuck out like a sore thumb. So I thought I would dive into why and how it came to exist.

For one thing "Mele Kalikimaka" quite literally is Hawaii's way of saying Merry Christmas. Mele Kalikimaka is the closest way of saying Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. For one thing, Hawaiian doesn't have an "r", which is how "Merry" goes to "Mele". "Christmas" gets a little more complicated. "C" to "K" isn't too crazy, and the rest can be pieced together with this:

The only fricative is /h/. So what should they use for /s/? Well … it's sometimes /h/ and sometimes /k/. Thus the English word crease might be rendered as kaliki or kalihi. Then there are the extra vowels. That, of course, is because Hawaiian doesn't allow consonant clusters — so that /krɪ/ becomes /kali/ — or syllable-final consonants — so that /mas/ becomes /maka/.

By the way, a "fricative" is just "a consonant sound, such as English f or v, produced by bringing the mouth into position to block the passage of the airstream, but not making a complete closure, so that air moving through the mouth generates audible friction."

Okay, so now we know how the song got its title, what about the rest of the story? Well, the song was written in 1949, by Robert Alex Anderson which means it was written a full decade before Hawaii became a state in 1959!

Sadly a lot of the information I was hoping to find has been hard to get a hold of, so I'm depending on Wikipedia more than I'd like. Robert Alex Anderson, a writer of Mele Kalikimaka, was born in Hawaii, graduated from Cornell, and although he was a successful businessman, he also had a good run of writing songs, and IMDB gives him 26 songwriting credits.

So why did Bing Crosby pick to sing Mele Kalikimaka? And a great many other Hawaiian songs? Well, "A Broadway show called Bird of Paradise introduced Hawaiian music to many Americans in 1912 and the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco followed in 1915; one year later, Hawaiian music sold more recordings than any other style in the country." Bing Crosby's own introduction may have been "in 1917, Crosby took a summer job as property boy at Spokane's "Auditorium," where he witnessed some of the finest acts of the day, including Al Jolson, who held him spellbound with ad-libbing and parodies of Hawaiian songs". Then, as Bing Crosby began to build his career, Hawaii grew in fame as well.

After the Attack on Pearl Harbor brought the US into World War Two, Crosby would put his talents to use in helping keep up the morale of US troops and would do well. "In a poll of U.S. troops at the close of World War II, Crosby topped the list as the person who had done the most for G.I. morale, ahead of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, General Dwight Eisenhower, and Bob Hope." The war also had an effect on Hawaiian music, "the influx of thousands of American servicemen into Hawaii during World War 2 created a demand for both popular swing rhythm and country sounds. The western swing style, popular on the mainland since the 1930s, employed the steel guitar (the steel guitar which originated in Hawaii) as a key element and was, therefore, a natural evolution."

All of this, a young singer hearing a new style, a language re-interpreting a common phrase, World War Two, all played a role in the creation of one of the many Christmas songs we hear on the radio today.

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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10 Reasons Why Having A Boyfriend Is Especially Awesome Around The Holidays

No better time of the year than Winter break to make all the memories with your honey freezing in the weather or sweating by the fireplace.

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A date for looking at Christmas lights is on the top of the list, for sure.

1. You have someone to do all of the activities with

He's like your built-in partner for everything. Wanna watch a movie? Take a nap? Need someone to help you clean your room? You've got your person.

2. You can steal his hoodies when its chilly outside

It doesn't even have to be cold for you to want to. Chances are its a size or two bigger than you need and his cologne is all over it.

3. Chances are he's more willing to drive in the snow than you are 

Guys typically have a little more of a heavy duty vehicle. If you've got a good man, he might even rescue you an hour away in a blizzard if you think you're tougher than the weather.

4. Christmas movie partner!!

Do I need to add more?

5. He can always keep you warm

Bear hugs. Cuddles. His trucks dual air 90 degree heat on your side. He'll find a way to keep you warm.

6. Your family holiday events partner

Multiple Thanksgivings and Christmas' are a breeze with your favorite person by your side. Plus, no one to ask you where your plus one is or why you're single.

7. Matching Christmas pajamas

I don't know about you, but my family has matching Christmas jammies every year. You can even get your favorite person in on them too for a cute insta picture.

8. Your errand running partner

He's your built-in Christmas shopping partner so you aren't bored standing in line forever or while you're still shopping and he can act as your place holder.

9. You aren't the only single one in your family on Christmas Eve anymore. 

It's awkward when all of your siblings are taking pictures with their others, but when you've found your person, you can do all the same things, including looking forward to your new year's kiss.

10. Making more memories

No better time of the year than Winter break to make all the memories with your honey freezing in the weather or sweating by the fireplace.

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