Mele Kalikimaka

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"Mele Kalikimaka" (pronounced [ˈmɛlɛ kəˌlikiˈmɐkə]) is a Hawaiian-themed Christmas song written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson. The song takes its title from the Hawaiian phrase Mele Kalikimaka, meaning "Merry Christmas".[1] One of the earliest recordings of this song was by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1950 on Decca 27228 (78 rpm) / 9-27228 (45 rpm) and it has been covered by many artists. The song is present in the films L.A. Confidential, Catch Me If You Can and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

The Beach Boys recorded a song of the same name for their album Ultimate Christmas, but it contains lyrics and music completely different from the song written by Robert Alex Anderson.

Origin of the phrase[edit]

The expression Mele Kalikimaka, despite its foreign sound, is actually borrowed directly from English. But since the Hawaiian language has a different phonological system from English it is not possible to render a pronunciation that is especially close to Merry Christmas. Standard Hawaiian does not have the /r/ or /s/ of English and its phonotactic constraints do not permit consonants at the end of syllables or consonant clusters. Thus the closest approximation to Merry Christmas is Mele Kalikimaka.[2]

Notable versions[edit]


  1. ^ Elbert, S. & Pukui, M.; Hawaiian Dictionary, page 481
  2. ^ Golston, Chris; Yang, Phong (2001), "White Hmong loanword phonology", in Féry, A.D. Green; van de Vijver, R., Proceedings of HILP, 5, University of Potsdam: Potsdam, pp. 40–57
  3. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Alsmann, Götz. "Winterwunderwelt Vol. 2" [winter wonder world volume 2] (in German). Retrieved December 13, 2017.

External links[edit]