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Customs and etiquette in Hawaii are customs and general etiquette that are widely observed in the Hawaiian Islands. In most cases, these will be observed by long-time residents and Native Hawaiians. Some customs are unique to certain ethnic groups, but are commonly observed and known by all residents.
When visiting a home, it is considered good manners to bring a small gift for one's host, generally in the form of a dessert or other food item. As such, parties are usually in the form of potlucks. It is extremely common for guests to take their shoes off before entering a home. A shoe rack on the porch or footwear left outside a doorway of a residence indicate that shoes should be removed.
The offering of food is related to the gift-giving culture. The pidgin phrases "Make plate" or "Take plate" are common in gatherings of friends or family that follow a potluck format. It is considered good manners to "make plate", literally making a plate of food from the available spread to take home, or "take plate", literally taking a plate the host of the party has made of the available spread for easy left-overs.
It is considered gracious to take the plate, or make a small plate, even if you don't intend to eat it. In part, this tradition is related to clean-up, being a good guest by not leaving the mass of left-overs at the party-throwers house and making them alone responsible for clean up. In more recent times, this has also evolved into donating your left-overs to the homeless population, especially if you're having a get-together at a public park or similar location, as it is likely there is a homeless population living nearby as well.
It is also considered thoughtful to bring back gifts from a trip for friends and family. Some people use the Japanese name for such gifts, omiyage. Others use the Hawaiian word, "makana" or the Samoan term "oso". Gifts of special foods unavailable outside the region visited are particularly appropriate. For example, Krispy Kreme is not available on the island of Oahu and visitors to Maui, where the only franchise is located, often return with donuts for friends and family. Conversely, locals traveling to the US mainland and abroad will take foods from Hawaii to friends and relatives where local foods are unavailable.
If someone has given you gift items or has done a service for you without asking for repayment, it is always wise and of good upbringing to at least give them something in return or offer them money. While it is common for people to play "hot potato" and refuse to accept the money, the important idea is that the offer was made.
Locals do not always like to feel as if they are taking and will often return the favor of giving with giving. When someone outright refuses to accept your donation, some locals will make it a personal challenge to make sure this person is repaid by slyly hiding the money in the other person's belongings and making sure they are out of sight as to not be given anything back. In that case, it is best just to keep the form of repayment and be sure to do something special for the person the next time you see them.
The indigenous Hawaiian form of luʻau is something seen most frequently as a tourist event, as opposed to a regular occurrence in local culture. Some exceptions apply, such as the birthday luau or weddings. The local lu'au has evolved more into a potluck. A lu'au is always set up as a buffet. Some aspects of the lu'au, such as traditional Hawaiian foods, or roast pig cooked in an imu remain, but for local get-together are most often provided through catering services rather than individual family activities. More traditional rural families on the neighbor islands, especially Kauai, Molokai, and Hawaii, will prepare the food themselves using help from their extended families. The extended family, family friends, and neighbors will provide pupu, or appetizers, for a separate "pupu line". In most cases, pupu is actually a euphemism for local delicacies that are provided in such abundance as to rival the actual main buffet line, the only difference being the absence of rice or poi, or starch, on the "pupu line".
It is customary for Hawai‘i families, regardless of ethnicity, to hold a luau to celebrate a child's first birthday. In Polynesian cultures (and also in Korean culture), the first birthday is considered a major milestone. (See entry under "for visitors from the mainland" for fuller description).
Although these celebrations are called lū’au, they could have an overarching theme. For example, the baby lū’au could be adorned with sports, superhero, cartoon, etc. decorations and games. Guests usually come with a birthday card and monetary gift for the money box.
These gatherings often consist of extended family, friends, neighbors and can reach up to hundreds of attendees.
Polynesian families, especially Samoans, Tongans and Maori, also commemorate 21st birthdays with lavish parties and feasts.
At Japanese weddings, it is customary for friends and relatives to offer "banzai" toasts to the bride and groom, wishing them long life.
It is customary at Hawaii weddings, especially at Filipino weddings for the bride and groom to do a 'Money dance', also called the pandango. A similar custom is observed by Samoan and Tongan newlyweds who perform a solo dance called the "taualuga" or "tau'olunga", respectively. In all of these cases, as the bride and/or groom dance, the guests express their best wishes to the newlyweds with a monetary gift.
Hawaii is a U.S. state, so gratuities are expected in accordance with American standards. For instance, 15–20% tips are the norm in restaurants. Many workers in Hawaii are paid less than minimum wage with tips factored into their regular pay similar to the US mainland. It can be considered rude to fail to tip or under tip your host or hostess.
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