History of the Luau
A Luau is a Hawaiian feast, where family and friends gather to celebrate special events. The name comes from a dish of young taro tops that’s usually served at an ‘aha‘aina, the precursor to the luau. A traditional ‘aha‘aina was a large banquet to celebrate a milestone, like a child’s first birthday, or a religious occasion. The foods and practices of an ‘aha‘aina were all symbolic, and the entire event was meant to unite attendees.
Because of the kapu system (ancient Hawaiian laws and regulations) men and women were forbidden from eating together. Women were also forbidden from eating certain foods like bananas, pork, and coconut. In 1819, King Kamehameha II helped break the ancient kapu system by eating a meal of forbidden foods with his wife and mother. After this, the term luau began to replace ‘aha‘aina.
Today, the luau continues to play an important part in the Hawaiian community as a way to commemorate a birthday, raise funds for an organization, or just get together and celebrate life. At the Big Kahuna Luau, we carry on this ancient practice of celebrating life — Hawaiian-style! Some traditional foods you’ll see at our luau include:
- Kalua pig: A whole pig wrapped in banana and ti leaves, cooked in an imu (an underground oven), and shredded before serving.
- Lomi lomi salmon: A side dish made by massaging fresh, salted salmon with tomatoes and onions until it separates into delicious bite-sized pieces.
- Poi: Baked or steamed taro that’s mashed into the consistency of liquid or porridge, depending on the amount of water that’s added.
- Pipikaula: Similar to beef jerky, this dried and salted beef became popular on the islands after paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) started eating it.