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Hawaii is celebrating four holidays in three days — possible because today is both the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. Monday is President’s Day, which gives me a holiday from both work and classes, and Tuesday is Mardi Gras! The parades and parties have already begun in Rio and New Orleans. In Honolulu, the celebration will be on Fat Tuesday with an enormous street festival along Nu’anu Avenue.
Organizers say the festival attracts 10,000 people each year. The street festival is free, although you must buy a wristband to purchase alcohol from street vendors or participating clubs. Samba parades with floats are scheduled at 7 and 9 pm — one float is supposed to have a giant movie screen showing live images from the Carnaval celebration in Rio. Of course, there will be live bands playing on multiple stages, food vendors and other booths.
I think this combination of celebrations is possible for three reasons: first, of course, the calendar cooperated by having the Lunar New Year fall later than some years. Second, the weather here is warm enough to have outside parades, street parties and scanty costumes in what is the dead of winter elsewhere. But the third says the most about the people who inhabit this set of islands: Hawaii is blissfully ecumenical when it comes to holidays, customs and celebrations of any kind. People from many different places have washed up on these rocks, bringing along their respective cultural celebrations. So people in Hawaii celebrate the holidays of their ancestral cultures, as well as the many new observances created by their intermingling here.
In Hawaii, you don’t have to look very far to find fun!