What Does Aloha Culture Mean?

Aloha is a law in the state of Hawaii. Don’t believe us? Here’s the statute:

"Aloha Spirit." (a) "Aloha Spirit" is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.

Aloha SpiritThese are traits of character that express the charm, warmth, and sincerity of Hawaii's people. It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.

"Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.

"Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.

"Aloha" is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.

"Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

(b) In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations, and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the "Aloha Spirit." (L 1986, c 202, §1)

But "law" might be too harsh a word for such an endearing and loving sentiment. The Aloha Law, passed in 1986, is more of a reminder to elected officials to always act with Aloha. There aren't any Aloha police roaming the islands forcing people to act compassionately.

As you can see in the law above, Aloha means a lot of things. It means hello, goodbye, grace, kindness, compassion, and love. Its literal translation is "The presence of divine breath." The first part of the word, Alo, means front or face. The last half of the word, Ha, means breath, and "divine" is inferred for such a spiritual word.

The Old Kahunas

Kahuna StatueThe old Kahunas taught Aloha as a means of self-realization and enlightenment. It is a way to connect to your spiritual side through love. First, you must learn to love and accept yourself. Once you've achieved self-love, it flows over like a cup filled with too much water. That overflowing love then reaches out to touch those around you. You simply make the world a better place by learning to love yourself.

When you love yourself, you are filled with positive thoughts. The Ancient Hawaiians believed that positive thoughts manifested a positive reality for everyone, and that belief is actually embedded into the word.

"A" means to sparkle or burn in Hawaiian while "Lo" is short for lo'o which means to obtain or procure. Burning or sparkling with positive thoughts means to procure a positive reality for all. It seems that the ancient Hawaiians believed that you can manifest your own destiny and reality.

The Kahunas of old also used Aloha to teach a code of conduct to the islands' youth. The word Aloha can be broken down into an acronym with each letter representing a different Hawaiian word.

A - ala = watchfulness

L - lokahi = unity

O - oia'i'o = honesty

H - ha'aha'a = humility

A - ahonui = perseverance

How Island Time Helps Aloha

Time Helps AlohaIronically, getting on Island Time takes a bit of time. It's one of the first things you'll notice about Hawaiian culture. Everyone takes their time, nobody's in a rush and that may make you feel uncomfortable at first. But, over time, you'll slide right into Island Time. And it's this Island Time that helps you to achieve Aloha.

The conscious human mind is only capable of one thought at a time (sorry, so-called "multi-taskers"), so you're incapable of thinking positive when you're feeling negative. The pressure to be on time and to rush around the islands creates positive thought-killing anxiety. Island Time helps you melt away that anxiety to allow you to focus on the positive, and that creates a better atmosphere for everyone.

What Aloha Means Today

Aloha Means TodayThe old Kahunas are gone, but Aloha still lives on. You'd be hard-pressed to find a happier people on planet earth than Hawaiians. You'll notice that locals stop to talk with each other and are invested in each other's lives. You might even drive by an open garage featuring tables of food with dozens of family and friends gathered around. These little celebrations are held every night of the week all over the islands.

And the Aloha Spirit flows over like a cup with too much water. You'll notice that locals are always willing to lend a hand, shoot you a smile and to ask about your day. Feel free to start a conversation with anybody and they'll tell you as much as you'd want to hear. After all, everyone's on Island Time so they have plenty of time.

The Old Kahunas believed that positive thoughts and deeds, no matter how small, never vanished. These small acts of kindness, from holding a door for a stranger to a friendly conversation, live on in eternity to multiply and spread. Modern Hawaiians carry this idea with them, so they are always ready with a smile, a chat, and a helping hand.

Aloha Shirts

Aloha ShirtYou feel good when you put on a Hawaiian shirt, right? Well, that's where Aloha comes from -- feeling good. Hawaiian shirts, with their colorful floral patterns, are actually called Aloha Shirts in Hawaii, and their endless patterns are supposed to promote positive feelings. The patterns also symbolize the positive thoughts of Aloha manifesting, spreading and multiplying endlessly through time.




Aloha Friday (Casual Friday)

Casual FridayYou can thank Hawaii for your casual Fridays at the office. The hot and humid weather of the islands led to businessmen wearing sport shirts instead of stifling suits during the summer months. Clothing companies caught on back in the 1940s, and they began to promote Aloha shirts as business attire. They even came up with Aloha Friday as a way to promote the Aloha shirt to the Hawaiian business world. It didn't catch on.

Well, it didn't catch on until the 1960's when the president of the Bank of Hawaii began to wear Aloha shirts on Fridays. Wilson P. Cannon Jr began to wear his favorite shirts very publicly, and Aloha Friday was born. The Hawaii-born banker started a trend that soon caught on in sunny California where Aloha Friday turned into Casual Friday before sweeping the nation and the world.