Your tired from you hot and cramped airplane ride , as you peel yourself off the seat after spending the last five hours listening to bob break up with his wife’s best friend. You step off the plane into the land of Aloha and being welcomed into paradise by being showered with leis.
A lei comes from the ancient Hawaiians, which were Polynesians who wore them. During 300 and 600 A.D.(http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108204.html) the leis had a different meaning and look then they do now. Originally they were braided leaves. The more modernized lei is native Hawaiian flowers strung together into a necklace. These flowers are symbols of love and friendship. The Polynesians offered them to their gods as gifts of love. The lei grew to be more poplar then even in the1800’s during the boat day. Traveler who visited Hawaii would be greeted with leis. Many legends of the lei were formed. It was said that if the visitor was leaving the island and threw their lei into ocean and it floated to the beach it meant that one day they would return to the island. The lei is an important symbol of Hawaii and has its own day on May 1st called lei day. (Eyewitness Travel Guide p.22)
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Another tradition of Hawaiians is their music and dance which is put together with a feast called a luau. A luau is a feast to celebrate special occasions. In ancient times Hawaiians believed it was importune to honor their gods with feasts. In the late 1850’s is when luaus were originated . In Hawaiian luau means the young edible leaves of the taro plant. The leaves from the taro plant were used to wrap and cover the food put into the underground oven called an imu.(www.alternative-hawaii.com/hacul/food.htm) Along with the roasted pig, usually at a luau you can find seafood, chicken, sweet potatoes and taro pudding.
Hula dancing is traditionally done at a luau. Hula dancing began in the 19th century. At first it was a religious ritual to present to the kings and upper classes. Today it is still to honor the ancients gods . The hula is preformed with chants and accompanied with percussion instruments. The instruments are called the Ipu heke and the standing pahu drum. (Eyewitness Travel guide pg.16-17)
Clothing is an important factor of the hula dancing. The ancient Hawaiian men wore Kupe’e which was a dog tooth leg piece, today sea shells are used. A kupe’e lima is also worn around the wrists of men. A lei po’o is a lei that’s work around the men hula dancers head. A long grass or leave skirt was worn by the men to complete their outfits.(http://www.geocities.com/~olelo/hula.html)
Women hula dancers wore holoku’s which are long fitted dresses. Sometimes a shawl is worn by either men or women, which is called a kihei. Hula dancers also wear lole lima puha’uha’u which is a puffed up arm piece. Another type of dress that can be worn is a mu’umu’u. Both women and men can wear a pa’u heihei, which is a hula skirt made out of leaves.(http://www.geocities.com/~olelo/hula.html)
A big part of the Hawaiian culture is the crafts. Woven baskets, leis, wooden bowls were crucial elements to every day life in ancient Hawaiian times. Everything made came from any available sources, such as coconuts, trees, feathers , stones and wood. braiding and weaving was important part of Hawaiian life it helped create carpets, sleeping mats, pillows, baskets and fans.
When asked to describe paradise many name Hawaii. When asked to describe Hawaii and things that represent it, most would say leis, luaus, and hula dancing. These cultural festivals indicate a very rich culture.
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