Some Luaus are more party orientated while some are very traditionally and culturally orientated. Some are more focused on entertainment, others on food. Each Luau will celebrate something unique to Hawaii.
In ancient times, Hawaiian people would come together to celebrate their happiness, a special events or even honor the gods with a grand feast. The reasons for celebration was varied such as enjoying a war victory, giving thanks for a bountiful harvest, launching a new canoe and celebrating the birth of a new child. The Luau as we know it today was famously marked with a feast by King Kamehameha II in 1819. This was to celebrate the end of traditional religious practices and allowed men and women to eat together for the first time, as well as commoners and royalty.
If you attend a modern Luau your journey will be a lot simpler than it was for the original Polynesian settlers, who traveled to Hawaii by canoe with only the stars to guide them. They bought with them across the waters, the tradition of giving beautiful, fresh fragrant flower leis as gifts. This traditional continues today and symbolizes a gesture of welcome, good luck, and a celebration of life’s milestones.
Today’s tourism companies do offer commercial Luaus for the visitors to the islands. To get an understanding of the flavor of the Luau, you should attend one that is held for celebratory purposes. While a commercial Luau will give you a feel for the festivity, a traditional, non-commercial Luau is more heartfelt and authentic. Whenever you are a part of a Luau, you are ‘ohana’ – family.