Hawaii is famous for its parties known as luaus. When people think of luaus, they often picture roasted pig and hula dancing, but these traditional feasts have a long and rich history for the native people of Hawaii and other Polynesian countries. Before luaus, there were large celebratory feasts called aha’aina.
These were celebrations for the entire village and took place after big events like a war, victory, births or launching a new canoe. These celebrations were also religious and had some strict rules. For example, men and women had to eat separately. There were also specific foods that only men or tribal chiefs could eat. King Kamehameha II changed these rules in 1819. He publicly ate with women and broke some of the traditions associated with the celebration. His actions redefined the celebratory feasts and made the modern-day luau into an event where everyone is welcome to enjoy the celebration.
- Luaus are large celebrations with food, dancing and games for the whole village.
- Luaus can take days to prepare for, and people often stay to eat and have fun for hours.
- Traditionally, diners sit on mats made of woven leaves and eat with their hands instead of using spoons and forks.
- Hawaiian kings often threw luaus to celebrate. These royal parties were huge and could have thousands of people attending the feast.
- One traditional food eaten at luaus is Kalua pig. To make this, whole pigs are roasted in an underground oven called an imu.
- The largest luau was held in 1847 and was hosted by King Kamehameha III.
- 271 pigs, 3,125 salted fish, 4,000 taro plants and 2,245 coconuts were needed to feed the crowd.
- Games are a popular form of entertainment at luaus.
- One traditional Hawaiian game is called Ulu Maika. It is similar to bowling.
- To play, two wooden stakes are placed in the ground 6 inches apart and 15 feet away from the players.
- Players score points by rolling a stone or ball between the two stakes.
- Players alternate throwing the stone or ball. The person with the most points after 10 turns is the winner.
- The balls are usually thrown underhanded.
- To make it easier or harder, players can move closer or farther from the stakes.