Backyard Party in Aloha Shirts

A Guide to Hawaii's Culture: From Clothing to Food

The culture of Hawaii isn't famous for no reason. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to the small islands to get a taste of the rich culture found only in Hawaii. To this day, the energy and spirit of Aloha flow through strongly the islands of Hawaii, allowing it to radiate energies of love and compassion for others. Because of this, it is no wonder why these tourists choose Hawaii as their go-to vacation destination. If you're looking to learn more about the traditional culture of Hawaii, you've come to the right place. Continue reading to learn more about the fantastic food, music and clothing that comes from Hawaii.

Hawaiian Food

Much like everything else that comes from Hawaii, Hawaiian food is quite unique and interesting. First on the list is the iconic Lau Lau. While it may look like a small ball of leaves, Lau Lau is deceivingly delicious. Lau Lau often consists of a piece of meat, fish or fat and is individually hand-wrapped in Lau Lau leaves. This unsuspectingly mouthwatering cuisine is often eaten as a lunch meal and can be found at any lunch plate spot or precooked at your local Hawaiian grocery store. This next dish has grown to become quite popular in the United States. Poke is Hawaii's favorite raw fish dish and bares some similarities to the Japanese sushi. Poke often has one or more seasonings giving it its signature spice. This cuisine is so delicious that it has transferred over to the mainland United States, with hundreds of Poke restaurants around the country.

Spicy Ahi and Limu Ahi Poke

Hawaiian Music

When someone thinks of Hawaiian music, there is one instrument that stands out: the Ukulele. Funnily enough, while the Ukulele plays a big part in Hawaiian culture, it actually was not invented there. The Ukulele was brought into Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants and has made a massive impact on the culture of Hawaiian music. Forgetting the Uke, traditional Hawaiian music consisted of pieces known as "mele". Meaning "song" or "chant" the purpose of mele was to pass down wisdom and stories through music. This wisdom could consist of prayers, history and myths.

There are two different types of mele: "mele ali" and "mele hula". Mele ali consists of only one singer who would perform for a group or audience. Mele hula would consist of a singer that either dances or uses an instrument. This practice is what created the infamous "hula" tradition we all know and love. What better way to teach children the lessons of the past than through music?

Relaxing and Reducing Stress with an Ukulele

Hawaiian Clothing

Of course, possibly the most popular thing to come out of Hawaii is the legendary culturally inspired clothing pieces. The Palaka shirt is a lesser known but extremely important type of Hawaiian clothing. Palaka shirts were originally crafted to give the plantation workers in Hawaii something to protect them from the elements. This clothing consisted of checkered patterns of usually one or more colors. While the history of this clothing isn't exactly pleasant, that didn't stop the Hawaiians from embracing the historical clothing and wearing it with pride.

Red Palaka Shirt

The most culturally significant clothing to come out of Hawaii is obviously the Hawaiian aloha shirt. Known for their vibrant and colorful patterns and designs, the story of the Hawaiian shirt is quite interesting. During the 1920s, Hawaii saw an influx of immigration from places like Japan and the United States. A group of Japanese immigrants decided to make a living through creating clothes and would create beautiful kimonos for them and whoever wanted them. Anyone who knows what kimonos are knows they are made with beautiful patterns, consisting of flowers, birds and more. Eventually, the Japanese clothiers used some of the leftover kimono fabric to create short-sleeve shirts for men, and thus, the Hawaiian aloha shirt was born.

As rich American tourists flocked to Hawaii to get away from the sorrow of The Great Depression, they brought the Hawaiian shirts back to the mainland, not knowing the cultural explosion they were about to introduce. Hawaiian shirts hit America by storm, with struggling citizens looking to emulate the style choices of the rich and wealthy. Now of course, almost anyone can get an authentic Hawaiian shirt for a reasonable price.

Contemporary Aloha Shirt by Paradise Found