The Luau, an ancient Polynesian and Hawaiian ritual, is a popular social gathering aimed at uniting the people of a city in celebration of an important life event, achievement, war victory or launching a new canoe. In ancient Hawaii, men and women ate separately. The ancient Hawaiian religion also prohibited commoners and women of all ranks from eating certain delicacies. This all changed in 1819, when King Kamehameha II abolished traditional religious practices.
A feast at which the king ate with women was the symbolic act that put an end to Hawaiian religious taboos, and the luau was born. In these early 19th century Hawaiian aha'aina, men and women ate separately, and only Hawaiian chiefs could enjoy certain foods. However, in 1819, King Kamehameha II put an end to all religious laws and invited women to eat together with men: the luau holidays were born. While a pu, or conch shell, was often used to announce the arrival of ships, as well as the beginning of the ceremony and as an accompaniment to traditional Hawaiian chants in ancient luaus, the act is still commonly used today to signify the beginning of a modern luau.
As tourists come to Hawaii looking to immerse themselves in culture, the luau has expanded into a multi-purpose party without the need for any occasion. With the advent of fast and relatively affordable transpacific air flights, came a new wave of tourists and a new love for tiki bars, tropical luaus and everything Hawaiian. When it comes to meat dishes, Hawaiians traditionally serve kalua pork, a dish of shredded pork, or laulau, which is beef wrapped in luau and steamed. One of the most festive experiences you can experience on a visit to the Hawaiian Islands is a luau, a Hawaiian feast with lively music and vibrant cultural performances from Hawaii and greater Polynesia.
But what exactly is a luau? For the people of Hawaii, it's a way to celebrate a variety of occasions, such as a birth, birthday, successful harvest, graduation, and many other occasions. Although luau are deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture, they have evolved to include food and entertainment from other cultures to more accurately represent the diversity of Hawaiian society. But it's important to note that, despite the name and its Hawaiian roots, not all food or entertainment at a luau party today is Hawaiian. So, before the arrival of the Protestant missionaries, the word luau had a different meaning: it meant chicken baked in coconut milk with taro, the main dish of these festivals of Hawaiian royalty.
In fact, these Polynesian holidays were often celebrated not only to celebrate a commendable occasion such as the launch of a new canoe, a victory in battle or a special achievement, but to honor the Hawaiian gods. While modern Hawaiian luaus are celebrated daily on all islands as a way to gather visitors and residents in a celebratory feast under the stars, with common entertainment such as live music, hula dancing, lei making, Samoan fire knife dancing, imu ceremonies, storytelling, a dinner party Buffet and fluid assortment of tropical cocktails, the Hawaiian luaus of the past, although also a great event, were generally very different in terms of general purpose and style.