About the Hawaiian Luau
Lu'au weren't always called lu'au. Until the mid-1800s small get-togethers were called pa'ina and large banquets — the equivalent of today's lu'au — were referred to as 'aha'aina. These root words mean, among other things, "gathering" ('aha) and "eating" ('aina).
Local records show
Much has changed since the days of the ancient lu'au. Women and men are allowed to eat together, which was forbidden in Hawai'i before the Hawaiian culture's system of kapu (taboos) was eliminated in 1819. Women are also allowed to eat foods that were once denied them, such as bananas, coconuts, pork, turtle and several types of fish.
The lyrical hula dance — now referred to as the ancient, or kahiko, style of hula — was once accompanied with chants (mele) to honor the gods. Today it is performed for entertainment and to remember the ways of old. A more modern style, called 'auana, has become popular since the 1970s, when a renaissance of native Hawaiian culture began. Both styles are performed at lu'au, and commercial events often showcase Tahitian and Samoan dance styles as well. Tahiti and Samoa are believed to be ancestral homelands of the Hawaiians.
Although some lu'au menus have evolved to include sushi, teriyaki chicken, Chinese manapua buns and the ubiquitous macaroni salad, traditional lu'au food is served at many events. Authentic dishes include:
- kalua pork (an entire pig roasted underground in a handmade pit called an imu oven)
- lomi lomi salmon (diced with tomatoes and onions, like a salsa)
- chicken long rice (transparent noodles)
- huli-huli (barbequed) chicken
- haupia (coconut custard)
- laulau (pork, chicken or fish wrapped and steamed in ti leaves)
- poi (taro root mashed with water into a pale purple paste)
As Christianity swept through Hawai'i in the 19th century, the lu'au lost its pagan roots and became more commonly a chance to relax and enjoy family and friends with good food and music. This spirit prevails in nearly every aspect of life in Hawai'i. One of the most dutifully observed local rituals is the "baby lu'au," a grand celebration staged on a child's first birthday. Lu'au are also held for graduations, class reunions, and other important events.
- Reel in the "Big One!" Big Island Sportfishing
- $695+ Big Island Trips: 3 nights w/air and FREE one-category Hertz Rental Upgrade.
- Stay at the iconic Volcano House Hotel, perched on the rim of Kilauea caldera
- Swim with Dolphins without the crowds!
- To truly experience Hawaii, you must see it from above! Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tours from $149
- Save up to 50% on your car rental with major USA car companies - Discount Hawaii Car Rental
- Experience the REAL Hawaii with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Tours from $149
- You must do a LUAU! Fire knife dancers, hula dancers, mai tais, lots of food, and more! Pick one here.
- Royal Experience Package at Royal Kona Resort from $229/nt.
- Don't leave Hawaii without trying surfing - lessons for all skill levels.
Hawaiian Airlines: Special Offers
- Save up to 40% plus complimentary breakfast at Starwood Resorts in Hawaii!
- Royal Experience Package at Royal Kona Resort from $229/nt
- Over 35 Oahu attractions & activities, 1 LOW PRICE! Save up to 55% now!
- $539+ Hawaii Winter Vacation Sale: 3 nights with air!
- Meet a Dolphin Face-to-Face with Dolphin Quest Hawaii