Hawaii History and its impact on a Wedding in Hawaii is unknown by many wedding couples and many locals as well. A wedding in Hawaii is greatly different today than centuries ago. Although History has said that Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii in the 18th century, the Polynesians arrived over 1,500 years ago.
Thus Cook did not discover Hawaii. He came with sailors who came upon an island chain already founded, with a legitimate monarchy government in place.
The Hawaiians kept much of their Polynesian culture and adapted somewhat thereafter. The language evolved and some cultural aspects changed too.
Over the last 200 years many races and ethnic groups immigrated to Hawaii. The Chinese were first to come after the Caucasians and were primarily field workers. Japanese, Filipino’s, and other groups followed them.
Although Hawaiians had their own indigenous religion in place,
Christian groups came and converted many of them to Christianity. Missionaries first came in 1820 from Boston. They became the first secondary settlers in Hawaii.
The Hawaiians did not have a written language, only oral. Stories were passed down from generation to generation. Missionaries helped write the Hawaiian language. But, events evolved with the coming of the Americans.
There is some controversy if the missionaries helped or tried to put a demise to Hawaiian religion practices. Many Hawaiians believe they negatively affected their life. Although some Hawaiians did convert to Christianity and gave up their beliefs, others did not.
Hawaiian were encouraged to dress appropriately according to missionaries standards, and to stop their practices such as the hula, an ancient form of dance and worship, brought from Polynesia.
Eventually, school polices came in place. The Hawaiian language was forbidden to be taught and students were not allowed to speak Hawaiian or else they would be punished. Hawaiians had to dance hula hidden from others otherwise there would also be punishment.
In1898, the sovereign nation of Hawaii was illegally overthrown by the United States government. The beloved Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned in her own palace, never officially giving Hawaii to the USA.
The overthrow of the government was began by American businessmen who wanted the US to take control for financial reasons. They conspired and convinced the US military that Hawaii was strategically important for the US to govern due to its unique location.
Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. In 1994 President Bill Clinton wrote a letter to the people of Hawaii officially apologizing for the illegal takeover of the sovereign nation of Hawaii. Many Hawaiian organizations are striving to attain sovereignty today.
So we come to the discussion of weddings. Weddings changed.
Here’s how according to Hawaiian cultural experts:
When a couple wanted to be married there was not a wedding ceremony. The couple would approach their Kumu (tribal leader) and ask if they could be together. The Kumu would say “yes” or “no” (Most likely he would say yes) Then he would say “Go” and that’s it.
There was no formal ceremony except for the Ali’i (royalty) and details of this are not exactly known.
There was no Hawaiian wedding ceremony. The ceremonies we see today of a Hawaiian nature were adapted after Christianity and western marriage culture merged into Hawaii. See Hawaii wedding ceremony.
Now we have Hawaiian wedding ceremonies, which begin with a chant, a Hawaiian lei exchange, and then westernized rituals with such things as a sand ceremony (which is not Hawaiian, but a made-up Caucasoid ritual) and exchanging vows and rings. We discourage wedding couples from doing the sand ceremony
We at Hawaii Wedding and Vow Renewal try to respect the Hawaiian culture, it’s people and their rights. We have planned and coordinated over 8000 weddings since 1994 and are well known within the Maui community.
Author: Frank Rebelo-Miholer
Hawaii Wedding and Vow Renewal