By Léo Azambuja

Musician Larry Rivera is seen here with his daughter, musician Ilima Rivera, and great granddaughter Hilina‘i Kananiokamahina Kahaunaele at Kamokila Hawaiian Village on the banks of Wailua River.

Musician Larry Rivera is seen here with his daughter, musician Ilima Rivera, and great granddaughter Hilina‘i Kananiokamahina Kahaunaele at Kamokila Hawaiian Village on the banks of Wailua River.

As the holiday season approaches, children on the Mainland dream of a white Christmas filled with snow. But here in Hawai‘i, “Christmas will be green and bright, the sun to shine by day and all the stars at night.”

The unassuming lyrics of Mele Kalikimaka, the quintessential Hawaiian Christmas song, paint a warm and sunny holiday season filled with swaying palm trees, just what we’re used to here on Kaua‘i.

“We’re looking forward to a bright Christmas here,” said singer and songwriter Ilima Rivera, who recorded two Christmas albums nominated for the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards; Mele Kalikimaka, Merry Christmas in 1999, and Winds and Colors of Christmas in 2009.

Larry Rivera

Larry Rivera

Her father, iconic singer and songwriter Larry Rivera, also recorded a Christmas album more than 50 years ago, Christmas on Kaua‘i, which has his famous Menehune Santa song.

“Christmas has always been the best time of the year, and it brings families together,” said Larry Rivera, who has six children, 17 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren.

“Everybody plays an instrument or sings,” Ilima Rivera said of her family. “Every Christmas, there’s always music.”

Her sister Leilani Rivera Bond also recorded a Christmas album, A Kaua‘i Christmas. She, her father and her sister, all perform Mele Kalikimaka in their albums.

The connection between Hawaiians and music goes back centuries. It was through chants that much of their history and legends survived: The Hawaiian language was only put into writing in the 1820s.