Since my parents are Hawaii locals, and I grew up in a Hawaii-style home, it’s easy for me to say that taking my shoes off at the door was custom. It was just something we did. So, naturally, it always blew my mind when, as a little girl, I went with my family to people’s houses and they said, “Leave your shoes on.” How could that possibly be sanitary or normal or right?
As a young girl, I quickly learned, however, that there are many things we locals think normal, that, of course, are peculiar to other people. And there’s no right or wrong to how people live their lives, but there are definitely some things I realize we do that are different. I do believe that cultures have many similarities, but here are some of the nuances between Hawaiians and others that I picked up on as I’ve lived around the world and on the mainland.
We wash our hair everyday
And I might just add that we shower everyday too. I don’t care if washing your hair everyday is bad for you, it’s just something that’s gotta get done. If I go a day without washing my hair (which would probably occur in emergencies only), then it’s THE WORST FEELING. In Hawaii, taking a shower and washing hair everyday is a necessity.
We wash our dishes by hand
When I moved into an apartment in Utah, I was shocked that my roommates used the dishwasher to wash a few mere dishes. Why not just do it by hand if you only have a few plates and cups? When my family did have a dishwasher in our home, I don’t remember using it much. If we did use it, it was usually for after big family events or when we had lots of guests over.
We wait for the hostess to eat before digging in
Not all locals do this, but I know this is something I’ve learned growing up. You don’t dig into the food until the wife of the head of house takes a bite. This might be something passed down from the Chinese, but I remember this one incident where I went to a party and an aunty got mad at some girls for digging in before she, the hostess, had even gotten food and sat down herself. Yikes! Just a tip for the mainlanders… if you go to a local person’s house for dinner, do yourself a favor and wait til the hostess sits down and eats. I know she’ll say, “Eat, eat, eat!” but use your discernment. I always wait.
We take our slippers/shoes off at the door
I can’t even explain how weird it feels to wear shoes in a house, especially when the house has carpet….
We wear slippers and socks TOGETHER
And speaking of slippers, why not keep your socks on when you wear them? Sure you might have to make your socks look like tabis, but who cares? Slippers and socks are a comfy combination.
We always offer food to visitors
“Are you hungry? No? I’ll make you something…” Locals love food, and it’s shame if we can’t offer you something, even if it’s a glass of juice. If you drop in unexpectedly, we’ll still ask you if you’re interested in eating something. We don’t care if you might be standing at the door and ready to leave. We just love food, and we have to offer some, just in case. Nobody’s leaving our homes hungry.
We won’t eat something in front of you if we don’t have enough to share
And, speaking of food, if we’ve brought a snack of some sort and you’re with us, we’ll only bring it out if we have enough to share. It’s really rude to eat something in front of another person and not offer. This includes if we’re in big groups. We’ll only buss out the snacks if we know everyone can get a piece.
We will pack up leftover food for you to take home
Whether it’s a party, a family dinner, or just stopping by, don’t be surprised when we buss out the ziploc bags to package things to go, or just give you the rest of the food. Just take it. We won’t be satisfied unless you do.
We appreciate food by making noises
And I don’t mean body noises, but I mean “Mmmmmmm…” We love complimenting and appreciating food with words and noises of affirmation like “Mmm…” and “Yum…” and “Ohhhh this is SO ono.” Some locals even dance a little when they eat–not dramatically though, just swaying back and forth–but we like to show our appreciation with noises of approval. Get used to it cause we love food. 🙂
We flash our headlights to warn other cars of cops up ahead
It’s an unspoken rule (but I guess it is spoken cause I just wrote about it), but on highways or going down busier streets in Hawaii, if someone coming towards you flashes their highlights once at you, it’s not a cause to get mad. In fact, locals are so grateful when this happens, because it means there’s a cop up ahead. Not that we’re speeders, but it’s just us being good neighbors. I’ve never experienced this on the mainland. I did it once and wondered to myself if the oncoming driver knew what that meant. And, tbh, there might be a lot of reasons people might not do it on the mainland, but Hawaii is small enough that we can keep other cars on the lookout.
We wave a lot when we’re driving
We are so used to sticking our hands out the window and throwing shakas, or waving just to anyone from behind the wheel (whether it’s an incoming car or a pedestrian crossing in front). I always feel weird when I wave to a pedestrian and they look at me like I’m crazy… but hey, gotta keep the aloha spirit alive. And it’s the best when they smile and wave back. 🙂
It’s so fun to be from Hawaii
There are probably more things that you thought of as you read this. While these differences in lifestyles aren’t bad things, they’re funny to think about. Tbh, locals will adapt to the lifestyle of wherever they live. Just don’t be surprised if any of these things pop around once in a while. Is there something you thought of that we do differently from mainlanders or other cultures/lifestyles?