What does Aloha really mean?
Aloha is the most Hawaiian word there is. In the Hawaiian language, it can mean both hello and goodbye, but really, for Hawaiians it means more than that as it also refers to love and affection. The word aloha is used in combination with other words, like 'aloha kakahiaka' - which means good morning; 'aloha auinala' - used as a greeting that means good afternoon; and 'aloha ahiahi' - how you'd wish good night in Hawaiian. Due to the unique meaning and popularity of aloha, Hawaii is known as the Aloha State.
Aloha is a Hawaiian symbol. Its meaning goes beyond any definition you can find about it in dictionaries. In Hawaii, you hear aloha all the time and are treated with aloha everywhere. The literal meaning of aloha is "the presence of the breath" or "the breath of life". It comes from "Alo" which means presence, front and face, and "ha", which means breathing. Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deep meaning begins by teaching us to love our own beings, first and then to spread love to others.
According to the ancient kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of achieving self-improvement and the realization of our own body and soul. Aloha is sending and receiving positive energy and living in harmony. When you live the Spirit of Aloha, you create positive feelings and thoughts that are never gone. They exist in space, multiply and spread to others.
Inspired by the philosophy and wisdom of the Spirit of Aloha, many public and private institutions in Hawaii opted to use the word as part of their name: Aloha Tower, Aloha Stadium and Aloha Airlines. Many Hawaiian singers write and play songs about aloha as well.
Why is this important? Well, the Aloha Spirit is considered an implicit state "law." Although the word law may sound a little too strong and strict, Aloha Spirit is not such a type of law that will get you in trouble if you break it. Its main purpose is to serve as a reminder to government officials while they perform their duties to treat people with deep care and respect, just like their ancestors did. The Aloha Spirit is more a lesson than a law. By learning and applying this lesson to real life, government officials can contribute to a better world, a world filled with aloha.
So the next time you greet a friend with "Aloha," keep its meanings close to your heart and think of the impression you are trying to make, because as Queen Lili'uokalani once said, "Aloha to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen & to know the unknowable."