There are two ways to interpret the lyrics of “Mele Kalikimaka,” the 1949 classic Christmas tune that’s been covered by everyone from the Honolulu-born Bette Midler to Seth McFarlane. The first is to view the song through the lens of aloha, a Hawaiian word that essentially means love, peace, joy, and compassion. That is, the well-wishers are simply sharing their culture with non-islanders.
Even if its intent is totally pure, “Mele Kalikimaka” at least lays bare the winter-weather masochism endorsed by other holiday songs—most of which can’t even bring themselves to fully gloss over the unpleasant reality that is subzero temperatures
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