Have some fun on Oahu
Hawaiian Customs and Traditions
Native Hawaiians navigated to the Hawaiian Islands, where they lived and flourished for centuries, carrying on the cultural traditions they brought with them and innovating new ones. With the influx of a diverse group of people to the islands, including the missionaries who converted many Hawaiians to Christianity and immigrant laborers who worked the sugar cane plantations, some Native Hawaiian traditions were widely adopted and evolved in the same pattern of assimilation, adaptation and innovation that affected the culture of newcomers, creating a shared culture of diverse influences commonly referred to simply as “local.” However, many Native Hawaiian customs have been protected and perpetuated and are still practiced today.
The honi ihu, or the touching of noses, is a traditional method of greeting one another, whether it’s a man and woman, two men or two women. It allows both people to exchange breath, which is the supremely important life force in Hawaiian understanding, and also share scents and convey a closeness in relationship.
Made out of flowers, bird feathers, shells, seeds, hair or ivory, the lei (garland or wreath) has become a symbol of Hawaii. Worn on the top of the head or around the neck, lei were used ornamentally by Native Hawaiians, especially chiefs, to signify their rank. Giving a lei was a traditional practice, but not like the ceremonious welcome practice that has become the local custom today. The manner of presenting was also different: it was tied around the neck, rather than casting the lei over the head, respecting the sacredness of a person’s head and back.
Hula is a complex artform performed for religious purposes, entertainment and to preserve historical events, genealogy and mythology through movements accompanied by chants. It is a sacred, serious pursuit, involving rigorous training and technical skill, and academic knowledge taught by respected kumu (teachers) who carry on and advance wisdom from a long lineage of masters. Unlike a lot of hula performed today, hula wasn’t meant to be a spectacle, and was often performed privately.
A coveted value, malama aina (take care of the land) upholds the strong connection Hawaiians have to the land. It provided food, nourishment and sustainability, so it was a profound privilege and duty, or kuleana, to take care of it in return by being great stewards, so that everyone, including future generations, could thrive from the bounty of the islands’ natural resources. This ethos still drives many of Hawaii’s taro farmers, fishpond caretakers and ecologists and conservationists of all stripes.
Hawaiian parties are called paina (dinner party) or ahaaina (feast), but a misunderstanding by 19th century newspaper reporters gave these distinctive celebrations the name luau (the name for taro tops, a common ingredient in Hawaiian cuisine), and it stuck. Though not an ancient name usage, the sentiments are similar—they brought together groups of people to enjoy delicious food. At the time in Hawaii’s history when the sugar industry grew and plantations multiplied, immigrant laborers were brought largely from China, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands. This diverse group of people living together in close-knit communities created a melting pot of cultures, which produced a unique blend of customs that have roots from many areas of the globe that are collectively referred to as “local.”
Contemporary Local Customs
Derived from the traditional Hawaiian honi ihu, a hug and a kiss on the cheek is a common greeting in Hawaii, whether you’re meeting friends, family or new people. At business meetings, handshakes are still acceptable.
2. Understanding the semantics of the language shows respect to the island and people you’re visiting. Only refer to things as “Hawaiian,” if you’re talking about the indigenous culture and people of Hawaii. Non-Hawaiians are referred to as “locals” or “kamaaina” (“child of the land”).
Hawaiian Pidgin English is a creole language, created at a time when various immigrants and Hawaiians needed a way to communicate with each other. A mixture of words from different languages, it may sound like broken English to uninformed listeners. It’s best not to attempt Hawaiian Pidgin English unless you’re fluent, as it may be perceived as mockery or disrespect.
Wearing a flower tucked above your left ear (the same side as your heart) discreetly communicates that you have a significant other, while a flower tucked above your right ear lets others know that you’re available. This practice has no roots in Hawaiian culture, but is a fun local custom.
It is not common to use a car horn while driving in Hawaii (unless you are honking a friendly hello). Instead, waving or throwing a shaka when someone lets you into their lane is encouraged.
It is considered a kind gesture to bring omiyage (gifts) from afar for family or friends. Unlike a standard souvenir, such as a magnet or postcard, the idea is to choose items that can’t be found in the recipient’s region, especially food. For instance, buying a box of macadamia nuts for a friend in Iowa where they are not common, or bringing a box of special cookies to a friend on another island where they are not available. Gifts of food are also given in exchange for favors.
Speaking of gifts, don’t take rocks or sand from the beach or lava rocks from a volcano. Superstition says that people who take them will be cursed, which probably gets its roots from the high esteem Hawaiian culture has always held for rocks. A lithic culture, stones were used for many things, such as tools, fences, housing – they can even be forms of deities. Leaving rocks as you found them is the best practice.
Take off your shoes before entering someone’s house. You’ll rarely find a house in Hawaii that doesn’t follow this practice. Observing the custom respects your hosts and keeps the dirt outside.
Give a gift of lei to welcome someone or say, “a hui hou” (until we meet again). Lei are also appropriate gifts at graduations, birthdays or other special occasions. It’s a bad omen to give a pregnant woman a closed lei (a representation of an umbilical cord wrapping around the neck of a child), so ask the florist to make it open-ended.
10. A person’s humility is generally deemed a more valuable characteristic than a person’s connections or financial worth. Wearing flashy clothes or name-dropping in Hawaii can be perceived as arrogance rather than pride.
Cynthia & Keythe
July 21. 2022
We look forward to you joining us as we celebrate our love on the beautiful island of Oahu! We have enlisted the assistance of Linda Mitchell, Destination Wedding Travel Specialist and Hawaii Specialist to assist with the travel arrangements for us and all of you!
Our host hotel is the gorgeous Alohilani in the heart of Waikiki! It is a modern oasis in an urban location capturing the culture of Hawaii. Located directly across the street from Waikiki Beach and directly on Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu, beach, food, shopping, nightlife and convenience are just a few amazing benefits to be experienced! The 5th floor rooftop pool is located at SWELL lounge, a place to meet and enjoy all the fun of the hotel and Waikiki landscape!
Guest rooms all have amazing views and are beautifully appointed. You may choose from 1 king bed or 2 queen beds. All rooms have a private balcony. You will experience Aloha chic with impeccable Hawaiian hospitality!
In-Room Amenities include:
Guest are invited to book their room reservations through the following hotel booking link. This link will take you direct to the hotel website accessing the exclusive link for our guests. Through this link you will receive our exclusive 20% discount off of the hotel best available posted rate. (No other promotions apply). You will have access to all available room categories with the discount automatically applied. Please be sure that you only book through this link to be part of our group and to receive the discount. Any other reservations made cannot then get the discount applied. Once our group of rooms is completely booked, Linda will make special requests on our behalf and also request us to be together in same location.
Please click on this link BOOK MY HOTEL ROOM NOW to access the exclusive booking page. You will then be taken to the availability page with the 20% discount applied to your dates that you must enter first. Follow the steps to choose your desired room and complete the reservation ensuring you remain on the Weider-DePalma booking page. You will receive an email confirmation once completed. NOTE: there are no rooms blocked for the group. The groups discount is based on current availability and rates on the hotel reservations page.
Please email Linda with any questions.
Daniel K. Inouye International Airport – HNL – Honolulu
Transportation from HNL to Alohilani – ride is about 20 -30 minutes depending on traffic
Please be at airport 2.5 hours in advance of your flight for Agriculture inspection, check in and TSA security lines.
All baggage bound from Hawaii to the U. S. Mainland is subject to pre-flight inspection by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Restrictions on the movement of fruits, plants, live snails, and other items from Hawaii to the Mainland are enforced to prevent the spread of fruit flies and other hazardous plant insects and diseases. Please report all agricultural items in your possession to the agricultural inspectors. Inspection stations for check-in baggage are located in front of the airline check-in counters while hand carried articles will be inspected at the security check points. Be prepared to open and close your baggage and parcels for x-ray machine inspection.
TSA pre-check is greatly benefited at HNL airport where security lines are notoriously long! If you have it be sure your number is in your airline reservation. If you do not have it, consider applying now! It is money well spent!
There are shops as well as food and beverage outlets at HNL after you pass through security.
We are so excited to welcome you to Oahu for our wedding celebration!
a hui hou koke iā ‘oe ( See you soon)
Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much)
Cynthia & Keythe