History of the Luau

 

An ancient tradition

Born in 1819 during the reign of King Kamehameha II, the modern luau has roots in Hawaii’s ancient royal traditions. As the first time men and women ate together, and the first occasion where commoners shared dishes customarily reserved for royalty, King Kamehameha’s luau represented a fundamental change in Hawaiian culture. The inclusive spirit started in these luaus has remained, and today people from all over the world come to Hawaii to attend a luau feast.

Not much has changed

Like the rest of the world, much about Hawaii has changed since the days of Kamehameha. However, as these changes occurred much about the luau remained the same. Lauhula mats covered the floor, packed with revelers enjoying the enormous tables of meat and fish dishes. Fresh fruit and vegetables sat amongst stunning displays of Hawaiian flora and fauna. Luaus were beloved across generations as over time intricate hulas and jaw-dropping Polynesian fire knife dances were incorporated. The Hawaiian Kings knew how to have a good time, throwing parties for as many as 1,500 guests in the case of the Merry Monarch Kalakaua’s 50th birthday luau. Perhaps the mother of all luaus was staged by King Kamehameha III in 1847 when he counted 271 roast pigs, 3,125 salt fish, 2,245 coconuts, and 4,000 taro plants at his table. Oahu luaus today may not quite equal King Kamehemeha III’s abundance, however the warm welcome found there by visitors and locals alike is much the same.

Good for the heart

It is this generous luau spirit that delights both native Hawaiians and visitors alike. The luau never fails to warm the heart, and is used to celebrate rites of passage like a child’s first birthday or high school graduation. Of course visitors to the island attend luaus for no other reason than to relax and enjoy an Oahu tradition. Luaus take place regularly at all of Oahu’s resorts giving all the opportunity to witness hula and Polynesian dances while dining on an abundant luau feast.

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