Shaka Around-The-World

Shakas Around The World On National Hawaii Day

The shaka hand gesture is spreading around the world. It’s no surprise that Hawaii has legally made the shaka a symbol of Hawaii.

On what is called National Hawaii Day (July 5), we are celebrating shaka here in the islands and in Montreux, Switzerland, where we visited their permanent shaka statue on Lake Geneva’s shores. What’s true is that Shaka has transcended Hawaii’s borders and found a place in global culture. The shaka’s journey from a local greeting to a globally recognized symbol is a testament to its cultural significance.

Official recognition by the State of Hawaii

During the 2024 Hawaii legislative session, the shaka was officially recognized as the official hand gesture of Hawaii. The closed hand signal with thumb and pinkie sticking out is now law. This legislative move highlights the shaka’s importance in Hawaii’s identity and its role in promoting the Aloha spirit. The recognition ensures that the cultural heritage and the positive values associated with the shaka are preserved for future generations.

Origins and meaning of shaka.

The shaka’s origins date back to the early 1900s and is rooted in the story of Hamana Kalili, a Native Hawaiian who lost his fingers in an accident at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. Despite this, Kalili’s unique wave became a symbol of aloha, eventually spreading across the islands. The gesture is now synonymous with Hawaiian culture, encapsulating the values of kindness, unity, and respect.

The Shaka statue in Koloa, Kauai.

In December 2022, a shaka statue was unveiled in Koloa, Kauai, celebrating this iconic gesture. The statue reminds visitors and locals alike of the Aloha spirit, welcoming them with a symbol of friendship and unity. Situated in Koloa, the statue is a testament to the enduring legacy of the shaka and its significance in Hawaiian culture. Notably, the statue’s fingernails change color based on the holiday, reflecting community engagement and celebration.

Global Influence includes a statue in Montreux, Switzerland.

Beyond Hawaii, the shaka has found a place in various cultures worldwide. During our recent stay in Montreux, Switzerland, we noticed on Google Maps a “shaka statue” highlighted. Your editors had to check it out; sure enough, Hawaii and “shaka” have a prominent place on Lake Geneva. It’s a metallic structure with a wood overlay placed there in 2018 on Perrier (Clarens) beach. A sign on the statue reads, “The shaka symbolizes a state of mind characteristic of openness and friendship within a community.”

Impact on tourism and culture.

The official recognition and promotion of the shaka have significantly impacted Hawaii’s tourism and cultural landscape. As highlighted in the article “Codifying Aloha: How Shaka Law Impacts Hawaii Tourism and Culture,” the shaka has become an integral part of Hawaii’s tourism campaigns and cultural events, attracting visitors eager to experience the Aloha spirit firsthand. This move not only enhances the visitor experience but also reinforces the cultural identity and values of the Hawaiian community.

National Hawaii Day on July 5.

This celebration honors the 50th state of the USA. Established by the National Day Calendar, it recognizes Hawaii’s unique cultural heritage, natural beauty, and rich history. Although Hawaii officially became a U.S. state on August 21, 1959, National Hawaii Day is observed on July 5 to commemorate the broader contributions of the islands.

The theme for National Hawaii Day 2024 is “Embracing the Aloha Spirit,” which focuses on spreading love, peace, and harmony, the core principles of Hawaiian culture.

Shaka is more than a hand gesture.

Shaka is a powerful symbol of the Aloha spirit. As shaka continues to be recognized and celebrated, both in Hawaii and globally, it reminds us of the importance of kindness, unity, and goodwill. So next time you greet someone, throw a shaka and spread a bit of the Aloha spirit.

Beat of Hawaii © Photos at Koloa Kauai, and at Montreux, Switzerland.

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2 thoughts on “Shakas Around The World On National Hawaii Day”

  1. Please please n e v e r e v e r
    Leave out the history of
    🤙🏽🤙🏽hamana kalili🤙🏽🤙🏽
    I am from his neighboring laie,
    Punalu’u.
    We all grew up knowing about unko & how he shaka’d to everyone. His statue is at the polynesian cultural center in laie.
    He only had 1 son manuela who never had any children himself.

    Forever ♥️ a l o h a♥️ to unko
    🤙🏽🤙🏽 hamana kalili 🤙🏽🤙🏽

    6
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