Some Idiosyncrasies of Hawaii

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Many of those of us who live in Hawaii, when we move into a new home or open a business or a business office, have it blessed. When ground is broken for a new construction project of any kind — corporate or private — the land is blessed. It’s not necessarily religion or superstition, it’s part of living in Hawaii.

Amid the amazing mixture of ethnic groups among our islands, many of our forebears brought beliefs and practices with them that since have become ingrained in the culture; and, of course, some of the ancient Hawaiian beliefs remain in one form or another.

Accordingly, it’s a good idea for you to be aware of some of those aphorisms if you plan to vacation in Hawaii.

  • You’re in for future misfortune if you take away lava rocks from the volcanoes. Over the years, literally thousands of vacationers actually have mailed rocks back after experiencing bad luck once they got back home. In fact, it’s often suggested that you leave behind everything you find in Hawaii (“Take only pictures; leave only footprints”) — but that caution smells as if it might have retailing interests behind it. (Don’t take free stuff; buy everything.)
  • Not that the opportunity is likely to arise, but do not carry pork over the Pali Highway. Your car will stop and break down. (Background: King Kamehameha led his warriors over the Pali in 1795. At the time, he had a bad relationship with the demigod Kamapua`a, who was half man and half pig. The two agreed not to visit each other. If you take pork over the Pali, you are taking a piece of Kamapua`a from one side to the other, and Pele will stop that from happening.)
  • Honor bachi — “what goes around comes around.” If you abuse someone else’s spirit, negative consequences will befall you. If you hand out good, you get it back as well. (You may call that “karma” at home, but this is a little more personal.)
  • Things bad that happen occur in threes.
  • A lot of us sort of follow Feng Shui, which is a way of arranging things according to rules of the environment. For example, you might position your bed so your feet are not facing the door, or you may avoid having your back to the door as you sit at your desk. The wrong positioning will allow negative forces to enter the premises through you.
  • Always take your shoes off before entering the home of a local resident (unless told by the host it’s okay to leave them on). This isn’t a superstition; it’s practically law. To ignore it is to be really insulting.

There’s no need to lose sleep over the thought of running afoul of any of the foregoing. But be advised.