What does “Aloha” mean? According to To-Hawaii.com, “aloha” can mean hello, goodbye, love and affection. But its meaning goes well beyond any definition you can find in dictionaries. In Hawaii, you hear aloha all the time and you are treated with aloha everywhere. (Hawaii is called the Aloha State, and for good reason.) Aloha express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians; they felt it was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii by one of their ancient gods.
The literal meaning of aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” (It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, when God created Adam He “breathed into him the breath of life,” and Adam “became a living being.”) The word “aloha” comes from “Alo,” meaning presence, front and face, and “ha,” meaning breath.
According to the old kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of sending and receiving positive energy, or living in harmony. Aloha was and still is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect.
Inspired by the philosophy and the wisdom of the Spirit of Aloha, nowadays many institutions and businesses in Hawaii carry its name: Aloha Tower, Aloha Stadium and Aloha Airlines. Many Hawaiian singers write and perform songs about aloha as well.
So by now you may understand that “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell, or a salutation. Aloha means mutual regard and affection, and is a reminder to extend warmth and caring for others with no obligation (payback) in return. Furthermore, aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person.
Queen Lili‘uokalani said, “Aloha is to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.”
I greet you in the Spirit of Aloha, and pray that you will discover the “breath of life” found in the Person of Jesus Christ. [Both pictures by Lowell Qualls, Maui – 2008 (c)]