Dec 2, 2012

Season of Traditions

sanding the mallets made from guava wood

Yesterday, Ian and the boys from the block got together to sand the mallets they needed to prepare for Mochi pounding on the 23rd of December.  This is part of the tradition the local Japanese community has kept alive in celebration of the New Year, and for good luck.

When February comes,they will suit up and go into the rainforest looking for already-felled guava trees for next year’s mochi pounding.

Guava-the-perfect-mochi-pounding wood has tannins and so it has to be soaked and dried several times to keep the mochi from turning red.

The guava is put through its paces,including drying, planing, sanding and soaking once again. The mochi pounding will happen at Grandma’s house and everyone knows whose grandma it is.  Traditions are like that.  They don’t invite change, and they represent stability and values from one generation to the next.  Traditions keep us together.

We are especially luck we live in Hawai`i because we have long had the diversity that much of white America seems to be afraid of.  We love the traditions each ethnic group has preserved and have learned again to appreciate the host culture and its traditions.

When Chinese New Year comes around on February 10 we will all celebrate the Year of the Snake. We will make Nian Gao, which literally means year cake, light firecrackers and go to a lion dance.

Fat Tuesday, before lent, is celebrated here with Portuguese Malasadas  — insanely good, large, super sugared donut holes.

So now we are in the commercially-driven tradition of Christmas, beating each other out for the best deals  at Best Buy.  On New Year’s we’ll have a party (or not) and drink champagne (or not) or go to a hotel to see a singer from our past (or not).   We may not gather as family, as we likely did for Thanksgiving.  There are so many traditions more interesting than our own.


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Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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