Hawaiian culture is a culture that features fascinating values, traditions, legends, music, and custom, all of which is a thing to behold among other societies.
The Flower Lei
The flower Lei represents the most unforgettable and enjoyable custom present in Hawaii today. Local custom dictates that the flower should be offered in a gracious manner along with a kiss and taken off only in private. If you have accepted a Lei then do not remove it in presence of anyone for it is considered to be rude, especially if you are doing so in presence of the person who has offered it to you. The designs of the Lei are subject to limitations of the imagination; it can range from the simple tuberose or one-strand orchid that you are usually presented with while arriving in Hawaii to the rare and elaborate varieties that are used in special occasions.
Experts at building canoes and navigating without instruments
People belonging to the early Hawaiian civilization were renowned for their expertise at building canoes. As per the tradition, the people had to offer food and prayer to the forest Gods before, during, and after they removed the tree from the forest. Owing to cultural protocols, a particular technique had to be used for felling the trees.
The early people were also masters of non-instrument navigation. Relying only upon the waves, stars, moon, and the sun, they were known to traverse the waters of the Pacific. This allowed them to occupy a large number of the small islands around Polynesia. The Hawaiian natives had an intimate knowledge of the celestial bodies- their types and locations. Whether the South Cross or the North Star, there is a Hawaiian lore and identity attached to everything you see in the sky.
The unique language
Not to forget the Hawaiian language! Comprised of only eight consonants and five vowels, this language features the shortest list of alphabets in the world. While most find it difficult to master, the language is mainly comprised of soft sounds while there are some words that offer numerous, often hidden meanings. Aloha is probably the most notable word. Not only is it one of the most widely known, but also one of the most important Hawaiian words.
Aloha has a number of different meanings- love, goodbye, and hello. It is also used to express fondness, affection, compassion, kindness, and sympathy. It is more than an expression of love or a greeting- it is the basis of what is regarded by Hawaiians as one of the core values in their culture.
The Hawaiian cultural values are also defined by such words as akahai that defines a person’s demeanor to be modest, unpretentious, and gentle. Among other key words are lokahi that stands for harmony and peace, oluolu which refers to pleasant and agreeable, and ahonui that stands for enduring and patient.
The Iconic Hula
The hula is another famous icon of Hawaii defined by the image of colorful costumes, graceful hands, and swaying hips. It has evolved down the years from being an activity that was exclusive to men and had religious significance to the modern contemporary dances with both men and women dancing to express fun, enjoyment, and expression. Hula has been classified into two different forms- hula kahiko is the ancient form while hula auana is the modern version.
Hula kahiko has an accompaniment of Hawaiian drums and other percussion instruments. It is performed in the Hawaiian language for various ceremonial and religious purposes. You can find dancers decked up in ferns, plants, native grasses, coconut fibers, and bark cloths. Hula auana on the other hand is more musical, upbeat, fun, and colorful. The auana dances are usually accompanied by Hawaiian or English songs apart from piano guitars and ukuleles. The dancers showcase colorful dresses that are decorated with beautiful floral prints.
Music on the Hawaiian Islands has grown into an integral part of the local culture and can be easily associated with the people in the region. What once started out as simple chants and drumbeats has now evolved into a music that is filled with a multitude of genres and artists such as jawaiian, chalangalang, kolohe (teasing hula), luau, traditional, or hapa-haole that has English lyrics playing on Hawaiian melody.
And then there are the legends…
Hawaiian culture is incomplete if you do not factor in the multitude of legends. Ancient Hawaiians were famous as storytellers and legends were their way of documenting history, beliefs, facts, and knowledge to be passed down from one generation to another. Among the popular legends are the story of the demi-God Maui who is believed to have pulled the island up from the bottom of the sea, the deceptively wicked and incredulously jealous volcano Goddess Pele and her snow God sister Poliahu. Legend also talks of the Kumulipo that highlights the creation of the Hawaiian Islands and tells fishing stories of the many Shark Gods.
There are also many superstitions in Hawaiian culture that get observed to this day. Rains and rainbows are heralded as blessings from the Gods especially if they show up during the time of a wedding. You are not supposed to take pork on the Pali Highway in Oahu Island that connects the windward and leeward side of the place. An act that is said to anger the Gods, it will bring you bad luck or car trouble, at the very least. Stepping over a baby lying on the floor, wearing a lei when pregnant, and carrying banana on a boat are other acts that are said to usher the wrath of the Gods.