The word "Aloha" has several meanings, and they all share a common Hawaiian origin, history and culture. So what does Aloha mean?
History books are not clear when did the "Aloha" expression enter the Hawaiian vocabulary, but several sources date it back to the end of the 18th century.
The official publications tell us that "Aloha" derives from the Proto-Polynesian word "qarofa". Interestingly, the Maori language has a similar word with identical meanings - "aroha."
Aloha means love, affection, peace, sympathy, pity, kindness, mercy and compassion. However, it also has a deeper impact on the Hawaiian culture. For the Hawaiians, there's "The Aloha Spirit," a unique way of living, the ultimate lifestyle, or the secret to a rich life.
Aloha can also be used to greet someone, or say goodbye. Aloha is more than the sum of its meanings; the word/expression relates to a quasi-philosophical definition or concept.
If we dissect the word "Aloha", we learn more and dive into the roots of Hawaii: "Alo" means "to share"; "oha" means "to show affection or friendship", and "hā" means "life, breath".
In the end, we get a positive attitude, an act of kindness. However, historians underline that "hā" is not "ha", so the correlation might not be entirely correct. But remember that "Aloha" is an Hawaiian word, and that its translation is ethereal.
The Aloha Spirit prevailed in the Hawaiian culture and society. In less than a century, the famous expression traveled the world and was adopted by multiple languages, with the help of surfing and its cool, laid back approach towards life.
To have or not have Aloha, that is the meaning of life. The popularity of the word kept growing, and Hawaii got a new nickname for the license plates: "Aloha State."
And who doesn't know the "Aloha Shirt," also known as "Hawaiian Shirt?" Aloha dress shirts feature colorful floral patterns and are widely used by men and women of all ages, in formal and informal occasions. It's a must in the contemporary Hawaiian society.
The "Aloha Shirt" was first sold in Honolulu, in 1935. Twenty years later, and after World War II," tourists began to buy the famous Hawaiian tropical-print shirts as a souvenir. Year 2000 was declared "The Year of the Aloha Shirt," in memory of Ellery Chun, the tailor who introduced the iconic blouse.
Despite the overuse of the word "Aloha," the soul of the expression remains unaltered. And that is precisely what we should preserve and share, not only as surfers, but also as citizens of the world. Aloha nui loa.