Top Ten Luau Secrets Facts
FACT NUMBER ONE: “LUAU” DOESN’T MEAN “PARTY”:
Today when we use the word “luau” we conjure up images of abundant food, incredible fire and hula dances, and everything else the aloha spirit offers at Kauai luaus. However, the word luau originally referred to a dish served at a Kauai luau, a wonderful combination of tender young taro leaves and chicken baked in coconut milk. So when attending a Hawaiian luau, be sure to spread the word: you aren’t just guests at a luau, you are eating luau too!
FACT NUMBER TWO: THE FIRST LUAU IN HISTORY WAS ABOUT A LOT MORE THAN FOOD:
The luau as we know it today originated in 1819 with a feast thrown by King Kamehameha II. This traditional feast marked a massive change in the traditional culture of ancient Hawaiians. Before King Kamehameha’s luau, Hawaiians followed a code of conduct that did not allow men and women to eat together, commoners to eat with royalty, or women to eat certain foods at all. Kamehameha II’s luau not only established the culinary traditions you see at the best Kauai luau today, it also ended these taboos forever.
FACT NUMBER THREE: FIRE-KNIFE DANCING ISN’T HAWAIIAN:
When you attend a luau in Kauai, one of the most mind-blowing aspects is fire-knife dancing. It truly takes your breath away. Surprisingly, this aspect of a Hawaiian luau didn’t originate in the Hawaiian Islands, and its actual origin is as interesting and unique as the dance itself. In 1946, the father of the fire-knife dance, Letuli Misilagi, traveled to San Francisco to perform the traditional Samoan ailao or knife dance at an exposition in Golden Gate Park. Stationed between a Hindi fire-eater and a baton-twirler, he had a vision, and fire dancing as we see it at Hawaiian luaus today was born!
FACT NUMBER FOUR: YOU SAY POTATO, I SAY “TARO”:
Where Europeans and Americans cultivate the potato, other parts of the world have the taro root. Taro was essential to the birth of the Hawaiian luau and is part of the dish that gave the luau its name. Taro was also a part of the spiritual belief system of the ancient Hawaiians who believed taro, or Haloa, to be the benevolent older brother of all mankind. It is for this reason that the formidable warriors of Hawaii’s past never fought when a bowl of taro-derived poi was on the table. Hawaiians did not fight in front of respected elders, and taro was the elder of all. Today when you enjoy Kauai luaus you can sample the taro paste known as poi as well as table taro, taro chips, and the combination of taro, chicken, and coconut milk known as luau.
FACT NUMBER FIVE: THE LEI TRADITION DIDN’T ORIGINATE IN HAWAII:
Your journey to a luau in Kauai will be much simpler than the travels of the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii, who traveled by canoe with only the stars as their guide. Across the waters with them came the tradition of giving beautiful, fragrant, fresh flower leis as gifts. The gift of lei can signify many things including welcome upon arrival, good luck at the time of departure, or the celebration of one of life’s milestones. When you are given a lei at a Hawaiian luau, remember to show respect for custom by wearing it for as long as you are in the presence of the giver. This sacred gift invites Kauai luau guests to participate in tradition instead of just observing it.
FACT NUMBER SIX: PREPARATION OF THE IMU OVEN IS ONE OF MANKIND’S OLDEST TRADITIONS:
The method of cooking the tender Kalua pork served at Kauai luaus is revealed in the meaning of the dishes name; “ka” means “the” and “lua” means “hole”. The pig is literally cooked in the hole; a rounded pit dug two to four feet deep with sloping sides. The pit is then lined with kindling material like twigs and small branches, which are covered in larger pieces of wood. An imu oven is constructed in layers, and the next layer is made of round stones, which are heated then covered with green plant materials to create steam. Once the pig is added the hole is filled in with dirt to prevent any steam from escaping. When the pig is removed from the pit, it will be tender enough to be served at any Kauai luau.
FACT NUMBER SEVEN: ANCIANT LUAUS DID NOT SERVE MAI TAIS:
Although almost all Kauai luaus serve Mai Tais and other alcoholic beverages, these drinks were not a part of ancient Hawaiian luau traditions.
FACT NUMBER EIGHT: EVEN HULA DANCERS GO TO SCHOOL:
For many guests that attend luaus on Kauai, one of the most anticipated parts of the festivities is the hula dance. In ancient Hawaii, hula dancers trained at schools known as halau where rigorous codes of conduct and strict discipline where practiced. One of the most famous halau can be found at Kee on Kauai’s north shore. At a Hawaiian luau you may see either hula kahiko, or old style, performed in traditional costume and accompanied by chanting and percussion only, or hula auana, the modern style with songs, ukuleles, and imaginative costumes. Although the halaus of today are different, they are still an important part of keeping the culture of the Hawaiian luau alive for all to enjoy.
FACT NUMBER NINE: HULA DANCER’S TATTOOS AREN’T JUST FOR DECORATION:
The facial tattoos of male hula dancer at many Kauai luaus are called moko and symbolize their geneaology and personal identity.
FACT NUMBER TEN: FOR THE BEST KAUAI LUAU EXPERIENCE, CALL BOSS FROG BEFORE YOU GO:
The best way to save money on a Kauai luau is to check with Boss Frog’s, because we believe in living life to the fullest, and getting the most possible out of your time on Kauai. How do we think you can do this? By planning ahead! Boss Frog’s doesn’t think anyone should pay full price for island activities, so we do the bargaining for you by arranging lower rates with vendors and offering them to you when you visit us. We have experienced all the Hawaiian luaus, and look forward to making your Kauai luau the best experience possible!