Traveling to Hawaii is as close as an American can get to visiting another country while staying within the United States.
There’s much to learn and understand about the state’s indigenous culture, the hundred years of immigration that resulted in today’s blended society, and the tradition of aloha that has welcomed millions of visitors over the years.
To go to Hawaii without taking an aloha shirt home is almost sacrilege.
The first aloha shirts from the 1920s and 1930s called “silkies” were classic canvases of art and tailored for the tourists.
Popular culture caught on in the 1950s, and they became a fashion craze.
With the 1960s came more subdued designs, Aloha Friday was born, and the shirt became appropriate clothing for work, play, and formal occasions.
Because of its soaring popularity, cheaper and mass-produced versions became available.
Although ancient Hawaiians were already known to produce fine kapa (bark) cloth, the actual art of quilting originated from the missionaries.
Hawaiians have created designs to reflect their own aesthetic, and bold patterns evolved over time.
They can be pricey, because the quilts are intricately made by hand and can take years to finish.
These masterpieces are considered precious heirlooms that reflect the history and beauty of Hawaii.
“Hula is the language of the heart and the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.”
Thousands from tots to seniors devote hours each week to hula classes.
All of these dancers need someplace to show off their stuff, and the result is a network of hula competitions (generally free or very inexpensive) and free performances in malls and other public spaces.
Many resorts offer hula instruction.
The luau’s origin, which was a celebratory feast, can be traced back to the earliest Hawaiian civilizations.
In the traditional luau, the taboo or kapu laws were very strict, requiring men and women to eat separately.
Nevertheless, in 1819 King Kamehameha II broke the great taboo and shared a feast with women and commoners, ushering in the modern-era luau.
Today, traditional luau usually commemorate a child’s first birthday, graduation, wedding, or another family occasion.
They also are a Hawaiian experience that most visitors enjoy, and resorts and other companies have incorporated the fire-knife dance and other Polynesian dances into their elaborate presentations.