Aloha Friday was the precursor to the worldwide phenomenon of "Casual Friday" and is still a celebrated piece of Hawaiian culture today.
Up until 1946, Hawaiian workers would typically wear proper business attire. However, that trend began to change. Hawaiian summers can get pretty hot and humid and the Chamber of Commerce began petitioning for workers to wear more casual clothing. The city of Honolulu began to allow workers to wear casual sports shirts in the summer months. At the time, aloha shirts were only allowed during Aloha Week each fall.
Later in 1962, the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began to promote wearing the iconic Aloha shirt (best known on the mainland as a Hawaiian shirt) in the workplace. The idea was that the climate of Hawaii made it uncomfortable to wear traditional business clothing so it would be a benefit for workers as well as the garment industry.
As part of their campaign called "Operation Liberation", the guild sent two Aloha shirts to every member of the Hawaii House of representatives as well as the senate. The organization recommended that "the male populace return to 'aloha attire' during the summer months for the sake of comfort and in support of the 50th state's garment industry." They began to lobby the government to allow government workers to wear Aloha shirts on Friday's and thus, Aloha Friday was born in 1966.
Women didn't get left out either. While Aloha Friday was initially targeted towards men, women also wanted to be able to dress more comfortably and began to wear muumuus or similar dresses in the newly casual atmosphere.
People on the mainland started to take notice (beginning in California) and the concept spread to businesses as "Casual Friday", a day where you could come to work dressed down in more casual clothing.
Although, I'm not sure if companies on the mainland quite captured the spirit:
In 1982, Kimo Kahoano wrote a classic song called "It's Aloha Friday, No Work Til Monday" in homage to Aloha Friday. You can still hear it played on many Hawaiian radio stations on Friday mornings to get people relaxed and ready for the weekend.
It's guaranteed to get stuck in your head (Doo be doo, doo doo be, doo be doo be doo be doo!)
Aloha Friday has been a part of the Hawaiian culture for many years now. Some companies in Hawaii, take Aloha Friday to a whole new level. They will even put on something called a "Pau Hana Friday" (typically the last Friday of the month). The businesses will have snacks and drinks (usually pupus, poke, pipikaula, etc...) Some companies may even take close a bit early and give coworkers a chance to socialize and relax with each other.
Isn't it interesting how something as simple as wearing a Hawaiian shirt at work can improve your outlook on life. When you put on an Aloha shirt, you're also putting on a change of attitude - one that gives you an appreciation for the simple things in life.
Mahalo and have a happy Aloha Friday!