Around the world, ‘aloha’ has become synonymous with Hawaiian culture. It’s the one Hawaiian word tourists and travelers from just about any part of the world know, and it’s a word that connects everybody because of the warm greeting that it is, and the unique and beautiful culture it expresses. So, what exactly does aloha mean? Let’s delve a little deeper and find out.
The usual meaning of aloha
Typically, as travelers find out, the word aloha means hello and goodbye. This is pretty much like ciao in Italian or salut in French. People in Hawaii use it as a way to greet each other hello, or to wish each other a great morning. It’s also used when they’re parting ways and bidding farewell.
Aloha with other words
Aloha is also commonly used along with other words, as a way of greeting people. For example, aloha kakahiaka means good morning, while aloha auinala is a greeting that is used to wish someone a good afternoon, and aloha ahiahi means good evening as a greeting in Hawaiian. Mahalo means thank you.
The origin of the word
Different historical sources say different things about how the word aloha probably found its way into the Hawaiian language. One of the most common theories states that the word’s origins date back to the eighteenth century, while many official records suggest that the word aloha has its roots in the Proto-Polynesian word qarofa – and while Proto-Polynesian is only a hypothetical language, aloha does bear a strong resemblance to the word aroha, which is a Maori word used in New Zealand with similar meanings and usage.
The spirit of aloha
You may want to look beyond the common usage of the word ‘aloha’ and understand what the spirit of aloha is all about. When you divide the word up and trace it back to its roots, you get a fascinating insight to Hawaiian culture: ‘alo’ means sharing, and ‘oha’ means showing friendship and affection, while ‘ha’ also means the breath of life. So, when you put it all together, aloha, in the deeper sense of the word, means something that is akin to a philosophy of kindness, compassion, and sharing. When you visit or move to Hawaii, you’ll find that many everyday services and buildings have the word aloha in their name, to incorporate the spirit of aloha and what it stands for into everyday life. Hawaiian culture is deep and rich, and singers have written songs on the philosophy of aloha, and books have been written about its place in Hawaiian culture.
The aloha spirit as a state law
The spirit of aloha is also accepted as law in Hawaii. It’s not as strict as it sounds though, because this law serves as a reminder to the officials of the government to treat all the people with equal compassion, and to respect and care for them as their ancestors did. It’s a foundational concept that’s characteristic of Hawaii, summed up in a single word. The bottom line is that aloha, in Hawaii, is not merely a word. In a broader and deeper sense, aloha is a philosophy and a way of life. So that you know the meaning of aloha, what do you think?