History of Luau


For many years a luau in Hawaii has been a welcome reversal of an ancient tradition. In ancient Hawaii, men and woman not only ate their meals apart, commoners and women were forbidden by to eat certain delicacies. This religious tradition changed exactly 200 years ago this year. In 1819 King Kamehameha II abolished these traditional religious practices and substituted feastsin which, as a symbolic act, the King ate with women. The history of luau was bornand has flourished ever since.

Luau food always has been an extremely important part of luaus. In facta luau derives its name from the favorite dish at these feasts: young and tender leaves of the taro plant combined with chicken and baked in coconut milk.The traditional luau feast was eaten on the floor and designed to be a beautiful, lavishly decorated Hawaii luau party. A centerpiece made of Ti leaves, ferns and quantities of native flowers were laid on lauhala mats and food was set out directly on the Ti leaves: traditionally bowls filled with poimade from pounded taro roots, platters of meat, sweet potatoes, dried fish or meat.

Royal luaus were big in every way, including the numbers of guests and the variety of luau food served. For example, King Kalakaua (nicknamed the Merry Monarch), well known for his love of giving parties and for the hula, threw a huge luau for his 50th birthday and invited more than 1,500 guests. There were so many people there that they had to be fed in 3 shifts.

Thankfully the luau tradition continues today on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai. Tom Barefoot’s Tours tries to keep the tradition flourishing for the benefit of both malihini (guests) and kama’aina (locals). Luaus provide very special experiences for everyone and, in one way or another, they are all different. All of them, however, combine buffet feasts, Hawaiian music, dancing and other entertainment, opportunities to learn about traditional arts and crafts of the islands,provide games and activities for kids and usually end with a thrilling performance of the fire-knife dance.

In other words, by anyone’s definition, over the course of its circuitous history the luau has evolved into a Hawaii luau party.Beginning with a flower-lei greeting and a Mai Tai or other beverage, luaus on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai provide memorable experiences for families and their children, couples celebrating or just having fun, dining on delicious food while being entertained, in beautiful settings where it is very easy to share and thoroughly enjoy Hawaiian-style hospitality. On each island, you can find a luau at one of the outstanding attractions for visitors which makes them an even more worthwhile experience.




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The Hawaiian Luau, of all the various activities available in Hawaii, is certainly the most Hawaiian activity of all! The luau in Hawaii can truly only be found in Hawaii and this is the reason the Hawaii luau party has established itself in the hearts of the visitors who come to Hawaii as the quintessential Hawaiian event.

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