Okay, so maybe we should start with how to pronounce that… LOO—ow. Loo as in Louis, and Ow as in… well… Ow? Lu’au. And if we’re being technical, lū’au.
Hui O Hawaii is hosting its annual lu’au on April 7th, just a few days away, and it is sure to be an event full of laughter and the overflowing sense of community that is a patented part of Saint Martin’s.
Traditionally, a lu’au is a time for a family to come together and share their Aloha with one another. But “family” in Hawaii is about more than just those people who share your blood. We call all elders either “aunty” or “uncle”, and because we come from such large families, nearly everyone is a “cousin”. For us, as well as at Saint Martin’s, a community is a family, an ‘ohana united as one body, one spirit, one tradition of sharing everything we have with each other. To this end, a lu’au is more than just a party or an event, it is the coming together of people who share whatever they have with whomever they can. They pass on their food, stories, and traditions, and this sharing is what we call Aloha. More than a simple goodbye or hello, Aloha is about spreading your kindness, your loving spirit, to everyone you meet. Never is Aloha or ohana more present than at a lu’au.
Saint Martin’s annual lu’au can be traced back to the 1960’s, when it was hosted in the campus cafeteria. The club itself, however, dates back even further, although no record was kept of its earliest days. Among one of Hui O Hawaii’s most active members, both then and now, is Mr. Art Fillazar.
This is Mr. Fillazar, or Uncle Art, as we call him, as he shares his Aloha with us earlier this year. Some of his favorite times at Saint Martin’s involve preparation for the lu’au, and when serving over 600 people, it’s a given that times are busy for Hui O Hawaii
At a lu’au, as well as any local party back home, the food is spectacular. Laulau, kalua pig, lomi salmon, pohole salad, haupia, fresh pineapple and papaya and mango, and of course, poi. I realize that many of you reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, so take a look at this:
Among this year’s selections are a plethora of dishes that remind we locals of home. Here are some of my favorites:
Lomi Salmon, a sort of cold salad consisting of smoked salmon, onion, and tomato.
Shoyu Chicken, cooked with ginger root, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
Guava Cake, made from a fruit that grows wild throughout the Hawaiian landscapes.
A big part of the Hawaiian culture that is shared through a lu’au is tied to dance, namely, hula. This graceful style of dance found in Hawaii is about telling a story through your hands. Hula dancers follow the music, often sung in Hawaiian, with hand motions and gestures to represent the words. This means that even if one does not understand the Hawaiian language, one may understand the story. There’s even a song about “Lovely Hula Hands” often sung around the islands. Hula is such a big part of Hawaii that we have an entire festival dedicated to it every spring. And one that I am very sad this year to be missing…
Here at the Merrie Monarch Festival, dancers come from all over the islands, and all over the globe, to share their song and dance with the people of Hawaii. They honor their ancestors by their chants and honor the tradition of hula by their grace and beauty.
(Here’s a link to last year’s Merrie Monarch highlights. Enjoy!)
At Saint Martin’s, just as for the Merrie Monarch Festival, students and faculty members gather from all across campus to share their Aloha through their dance. New this year, I am excited to report, is a co-ed Haka, a Maori warrior chant traditionally performed by the men.
With food, family, and wonderful entertainment, this year’s lu’au promises to be an amazing time filled with love, laughter, and plenty of Aloha. There will be opportunities for some ono grinds for us locals, and a chance to try something new and exciting for many of our friends across the sea. There will be a keiki booth for youngsters, bringing fun to the whole family, and a chance to connect as one community, one ‘ohana, one Saint Martin’s University. I hope to see you all there!