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Hawaiian Luau + The Aloha Spirit (B2-C1)

Agosto 2019
Questa festa tradizionale, che comprende un lauto banchetto con cibo e bevande tipiche, musica popolare e danze che hanno origini polinesiane, assicura intrattenimento a chi vuole assaporare le usanze dell’antica e ricca cultura hawaiana.

di Talitha Linehan

File audio:

clicca qui per andare alla relativa traccia audio (contrassegnata dalla scritta "speaker")

James Cacal
James Cacal

Speaker: Molly Malcolm (American accent)

Maui is the second-largest of the eight islands that make up the US state of Hawaii, a tropical paradise in the North Pacific. As the sun sets on the island, visitors from all over the world celebrate Hawaii’s rich history and culture with a luau, a celebration that typically consists of traditional Hawaiian food, music and dance.


At 2,250 miles from the nearest landmass, the Hawaiian archipelago is one of the most isolated population centers on the planet. And it shows in the way this ancient culture is preserved.


Attendants at a luau are greeted with a traditional floral lei and a popular rum cocktail called mai tai. They are then invited to participate in cultural activities, enjoy performances by dancers in colourful costumes and observe the Imu ceremony, in which an entire pig is unearthed from a traditional Hawaiian underground oven, where it has been roasting for about eight hours.


The meat of the pig is just one of the many dishes that make up traditional Hawaiian food, including fish or chicken cooked in coconut milk, lomi lomi salmon (marinated raw fish), ahi tuna, poke, taro, shellfish, baked sweet potatoes and coconut pudding; all of it usually served as the sun sets over the ocean by tattooed waiters in kukei leis (made of nuts) and Hawaiian-style sarongs.


The highlight of the party, however, is the after-dinner performance, which tells the story of Hawaii through traditional music, chanting and hula. The performance begins with a traditional Tahitian dance called otea that chronicles the migration of Polynesians to Hawaii around 300 to 600 AD. Next, the dancers perform an ancient form of hula called kahiko, which is accompanied by chanting and was traditionally used to communicate with the gods.


The final part of the performance depicts the arrival of European missionaries to Hawaii in the 19th century and celebrates the monarchs who ruled the Kingdom of Hawaii at that time. They include King Kamehameha II, who in 1819 ended religious laws that prohibited men and women from eating together. And so, exactly one hundred years ago, the first luau party took place as a celebration of Hawaiian culture.  



Speaker: Molly Malcolm (American accent)

One hundred years ago, Hawaiian men and women ate their meals separately. That changed, however, when King Kamehameha II, six months into his reign, defied the ancient system of religious laws and sat down with one of his five wives and his mother-in-law to eat a meal together. Since then, locals take advantage of any occasion to celebrate a luau; be it a newborn baby party, a national victory or a minor occasion. A luau is a festival of food, music and performance. It tells the story of how the Polynesians migrated from Tahiti to Hawaii, and it features a Tahitian dance. James Cacal is Director of Operations for the Old Lahaina Luau, a resort on Maui’s west coast. As he told Speak Up, the luau celebrated here is a big draw for tourists. We asked Cacal what to expect.

James Cacal (Hawaiian accent):

First of all, you can expect excitement and the aloha spirit. When you first check in, we greet you with a fresh flower lei, as well as a fresh mai tai. There are some cultural activities along our beach prior to the festivities, and then there’s our authentic Hawaiian buffet, in which we have a diverse array of Hawaiian food… And then our show starts at 7.15pm into the night, and it’s about a three-hour programme.


And Cacal went on to explain what a lei was.

James Cacal:

A lei is an adornment that is given to you for a welcoming in our culture. It goes around your neck, whether it’s a flower lei or a kukui nut lei.


One of the major traditions at the luau is the unearthing of a pig. We asked Cacal to tell us more about it.

James Cacal:

The unearthing of the pig we call our Imu ceremony. Imu [is] an underground oven where we cook a pig for at least eight hours underground. It begins at 6am in the morning, when we prep the ground, make the fire, put the pig in, cover it [in] traditional style. We unearth it for the guests at around 5.45pm and it’s served in our all-you-can-eat buffet.


And Cacal went on to explain what makes hula such a wonderful Hawaiian tradition.

James Cacal:

Hula is a beautiful art, a form of dance if you will, and there’s a couple of styles of hula that we showcase here at the Old Lahaina Luau. One is hula ‘auana, more with the music, and one is hula kahiko, more with the chanting and our pahu drum… The song that is playing or the chant determines the motions of the body and the expression as well.


Maui is one of eight main islands that make up Hawaii. We asked Cacal what made it special.

James Cacal:

People step foot on this island and they’re just in awe as far as the beauty, the ambience, more especially [the] people…We take care of each other and we spread the aloha and show the aloha spirit as well.  


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