It can be easy to think of Hawaii as simply a pretty vacation spot, with white sand beaches, clear blue water, a few volcanoes, and a little hula dancing for the tourists. But beneath its gorgeous exterior, the state of Hawaii has a rich and multilayered culture, with Polynesian, Asian, and European influences and the highest “minority” population of any state in the US (it’s actually a minority-majority!)
So what unifies such a diverse citizenry? It can be summed up in one word: “aloha.” Known in English as a term that means both “hello” and “goodbye,” aloha, in Hawaiian, is much more than a simple greeting; it is a way of life. It refers to a spirit of love and compassion, giving and generosity that defines this friendly, easy-going, gift-giving culture. In a place where all dinners, parties, and luaus are potlucks, where returning with special gifts for friends and family after traveling is customary, and where aromatic leis (garlands) are frequently given to honor visitors and loved ones in times of celebration, it’s no wonder that such a diverse population can knit together. Aloha even pervades the roads – you won’t find any aggressive drivers blaring their horns here! In fact, there is even a law declaring that all citizens abide by the gentle spirit of the ancient Hawaiians.