Hawaii Superstitions: What Should You Believe?

a portrait of the goddess pele
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Hawaii Superstitions: What Should You Believe?

Hawaii is a melting pot of diverse cultures and beliefs (which is what makes it such an amazing place to live). But, with that diversity comes a mix of the occult, odd belief systems, and long-time rituals, many of which come from the “homelands” of Hawaii residents.

In honor of Halloween, we thought we’d bring you some of the Hawaii superstitions that are still prevalent today, courtesy of Hawaii magazine:

  • Don’t bring bananas on a boat. (It brings no fish and bad luck.)
  • Don’t take a rock or sand from the beach, or lava rock from a volcano, with you outside of Hawaii. (Bad things will start happening to you until you return it. You’ll be cursed by Pele, the fire goddess. Basically don’t take anything natural with you outside of Hawaii. It’s just taboo.) This is something to remember when you book a Hawaii Sightseeing and Volcano Tour through Hawaii Aloha Travel!
  • If you visit a Hawaii Island volcano, ofer ohelo berries to Pele. (Only then may you rightfully proceed into the landscape.)
  • Don’t whistle at night. (You’ll summon the huakai po (night marchers), the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors.)
  • If you hear drums beating in the distance, get out of the area. (You could be in the night marchers’ ghostly path.)
  • Don’t take pork on the Pali. (If you do you’ll anger Pele, who had a bad romance with the pig demi-god Kamapuaa, and your car will break down. Some believe this to only be raw, not cooked, pork.)
Although this visitor is offering a different flower, if you visit a Hawaii Island volcano, offer ohelo berries to Pele. (Only then may you rightfully proceed into the landscape.)
  • If you are traveling around with pork always have ti leaf with you. (Pork attracts angry spirits and the ti leaf will protect you.)
  • If you pick a fern off the Pali it will rain in five minutes. (It doesn’t matter what the weather is.)
  • Don’t leave chopsticks standing straight up in a bowl of rice. (Or bad luck will follow because that’s how you offer rice to the dead.)
  • If you see an old woman on the side of the road, offer her food and drink. (Because that’s Pele, shape-shifted into the form of an elderly person.)
  • If you see an old woman on Hawaii Island wearing a white kihei (cape), offer her a ride. (Because that’s also Pele, who’ll disappear in your car while driving her, but leave you with good luck.)
  • Don’t kill a large black moth. (Because it’s a recently deceased loved one paying a visit.)
  • If you inexplicably smell strong fragrant flowers, don’t be alarmed. (That’s also a departed family member visiting you.)
  • If something abruptly falls in your home, it means someone just died. (Or that someone will.)
  • Don’t sleep with your head to a window. (That’s how a demon cuts your head off.)
  • Don’t sleep with your feet to the door. (Otherwise when your spirit leaves your body when it’s asleep it won’t know how to get back. Or a night marcher will drag you out.)
  • Don’t step over someone when they’re sleeping. (Unless you want everyone to know you want that person dead.)
  • Don’t wear shoes in the house, it’s bad luck. (You’ll bring in the devil.)
  • Don’t point at graveyards or tombstones. (Or a spirit will latch onto you…and never let go.)
  • Don’t sign a living person’s name in red ink. (Koreans believe it means you’re wishing that person was dead.
  • If you see orbs flying around the Waianae side of Oahu you’re looking at souls that have just crossed over. (Kaena Point, the westernmost tip of land on the island is believed to be a “jumping off” point for spirits into the afterlife.
  • If posing for a picture with three people, you don’t want to be the middle person. (Filipinos believe middle position means you’ll be the first to die.)
This is the proper way to rest your chopsticks in rice. Don’t leave chopsticks standing straight up in a bowl of rice. (Or bad luck will follow because that’s how you offer rice to the dead.)
  • Don’t bunch objects in four or you’ll attract misfortune. (The Japanese pronunciation for the number four is “shi” which is also the kanji for “death.”)
  • Always sweep out the back door, not the front. (You want misfortunes of the past to be behind you, not where you enter.)
  • Don’t cut your nails at night. (It’s bad luck.)
  • Don’t wear a lei if you’re pregnant. (If you wear a closed flower one it means the baby will choke on the umbilical code during birth.)
  • Don’t bring children to Wahiawa gulch. (The heartbroken ghost of a woman known as the Green Lady lost one of her children there and will take yours if you do.)
  • Don’t pluck red lehua flowers off the ohia tree. (If you do it means you’re separating star-crossed lovers Lehua from Ohia and it will start to rain.)
  • Don’t cut plants at night. (It attracts spirits.)
  • Don’t cut a baby’s hair the first year. (Because you’re inviting spirits to touch the baby’s hair too.)
  • Don’t drive past a graveyard with your window down or a child’s ghost will jump in and catch a ride. (This is especially forewarned at the graveyard across the street from Kahala Mall on Oahu.)
  • The more leaves on your “money tree,” the more prosperity headed your way. (The money tree is the hala pepe plant.)

Seems like a lot of things “not” to do, eh?! Well, that may be true. But, I’d honor these Hawaii superstitions, just in case, if I were you. You don’t need any bad luck while in Hawaii or back home!

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