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by Chelsea Noelani Hale, student writer

HPU’s Council of Countries kicked off the holidays with a festive 4th annual International Holiday Bazaar Dec. 5 on Fort Street Mall. This fall preview of spring’s famous Intercultural Day saw students from around the globe participating in events and booth competitions, while dazzling passersby with culturally unique holiday traditions.
Eleven clubs had their booths set up by 11 a.m., and the mall was filled with wonderful holiday cheer. Reds and greens decorated the booths, and an assortment of joyful Christmas music tickled the ears of students walking by. Even Sharky, HPU’s mascot, posed for pictures in a Santa costume.
The Japanese and Danish student associations and the Marine Biology Club won the top prizes, but the mall was full of stunning displays and costumes.
One of the most vibrant booths was done by the Kababayan Filipino American Student Association. Club members performed traditional dances with authentic costumes and music. The booth was decorated with a hand-painted display of a Filipino palace under a white star called a parol, “a very popular ornament during the flashy holidays,” according to Julian Hilario Jr., the club president.
Filipino Christmas season starts Dec. 16 and is very festive, Hilario said, a time for everyone to gather and celebrate. “We all come together,” Hilario explained. “We dance, we sing, we’re like a family.”
The Chinese Student Association club booth also caught the eyes of visitors, with festive traditional ornaments, including hand-made Chinese knots and spring festival couplets, thought to bring good luck for the New Year.
China is not a Christian country, so rather than celebrating Christmas, the Chinese celebrate the New Year or the Spring Festival. “During the holidays, it is tradition for whole families to come together and celebrate the New Year,” said Dan Yuan, a junior from Qin Huangdao, China, majoring in communication.
Yuan, who had a chance to walk around, said she enjoyed the booths: “I learned so much from all the unique cultures,” Yuan said, “that it’s hard to choose which booth I liked best.”
In traditional garments, members of the Japanese Association welcomed visitors into their booth, where colorful bookmarks were being decorated with phrases in kanji, Japan’s written language, and given to visitors.
Andrew Abordonado, a member of the association, explained that the club’s theme reflected what holidays are like in Japan and pointed out one of the most common ornaments found in Japanese homes during the holidays, the kadomatsu, or “gate pine.” Pairs of kadomatsu, each formed from three shoots of bamboo, adorn the fronts of most homes and are used to welcome ancestral spirits for the New Year, he explained.
The Japanese club took third place in the competition and the Danes took second place. The festive Danish Dynamite booth displayed beautiful ethnic Christmas decorations and ornaments, many created on the spot by visitors to the booth, as the club’s interactive theme let them experience the Danish Christmas culture via Danish crafts.
“ Danish Christmas is very much like Christmas in America,” said Isabelle Gardnert, a junior majoring in Applied Sociology. “We have Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and give out gifts,” she added.
Gardnert planned to take a little of America with her. “When I return home,” she said, “I will have a welcome barbeque, and on Christmas we all eat duck.”
The first-place winner was the Marine Science Club booth. Adorned with blue and silver tinsel, it featured a variety of interactive activities ranging from a “guess-the-duck” marine biology trivia game to a marine creature touch tank. “I think everyone liked the touch tank we set up,” said club president Elliott Roberts. “It’s very unusual to have marine creatures in the middle of Fort Street Mall downtown.”
Undoubtedly a big hit, the booth was not only festive but also educational. “This year we were trying to make our booth both winter themed and informative,” said Roberts. “We had little time to prepare for the event, since it was late notice. We only decided to participate one week before the event,” he said, adding that with the prize money the club would “create new club activities for the spring semester next year.”
“ It feels fantastic to have won,” Roberts added.


Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.

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