wisdom_alohalei.jpgALOHA IS MORE THAN A GREETING

The word aloha is associated with love, friendship and closeness. Hawaiians of old (and many today) greeted each other nose-to-nose, in an exchange of , — breath — signifying a meeting between friends. Aloha is rooted in two words which describe that greeting: alo, being in the presence of; and , breath of life; the life force. Thus, aloha means “in the presence of breath, our life force.” The word aloha evolved over time into a conventional greeting.

Today, aloha is an internationally recognized word conveying friendship. Saying it aloud still carries the spirit of profound friendship and trust. The flower lei, like those bedecking the pictured high school graduate, is the best known symbol of aloha.

A sidebar about hā:  Westerners who first came to Hawai'i did not practice the custom of exchanging , so Hawaiians called them haole (without breath).  Since it was foreigners -- white men -- who didn't exchange hā, haole today means caucasian.

In the spirit of both past and present, aloha!

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Hear pronunciation:
aloha:
love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity; greeting, salutation, regards; sweetheart, lover, loved one; beloved, loving kind, compassionate, charitable, lovable; to love, be fond of; to show kindness, mercy, pity, charity, affection; to venerate; to remember with affection; to greet, hail
: breath, life
alo: Front, face, presence; upper surface, as of a bowl; leeward
alohā: in the presence of the breath of life (alo: front, face, presence; hā: breath, life)
haole: White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian; formerly any foreigner; foreign, introduced, of foreign origin