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Hawaiian greetings include saying Aloha and waving a shaka sign. Both of these things bring a sense of peace and friendship. You can even cure a case of roadrage with a shaka sign. It’s a great reminder to calm down and just be happy.

I love the story of the shaka.


It was started by Hamana Kalili. He was a Hawaiian fisherman, descended from royalty, who started the sign. He lost his three middle fingers in a sugar mill accident. He would wave his hand to signal the train was ready to roll. Keiki (children) who were hitching rides on the train and munching sugar cane would imitate the gesture. Hamana also conducted a choir for the Mormon church. They became familiar with the gesture.

It began to spread worldwide as visitors saw Hamana act as King Kamehameha and wave in the historic Laie Hukilau event. Surfers, visitors, Hawaiian residents, and even government leaders have helped to spread the shaka globally.

Kalani Sitake, BYU’s head football coach wants BYU fans to use the shaka as they cheer. I think it’s perfect. It was started by a Mormon Polynesian. Sitake is the first Tongan to become a collegiate head coach. The sign is also sign language for Y. BYU is often referred to as the Y.

When we saw t-shirts with Hamana Kalili waving the shaka I knew it was perfect for Parker. He is such a friendly guy. He liked being able to tell the story of the shaka to his friends when he wore the shirt.

A long time ago Heath started making the sign language sign for I Love You several times a day. It is similar to the shaka except you also extend your index finger. When he started doing that I had to train myself to raise that extra finger. I was used to the “hang loose” shaka sign. Now I have to think extra hard to make the shaka sign! I better practice because football season is coming up.


Spending a week in Hawaii helped. Now that I’m back on the mainland I find myself wanting to greet people with a friendly Aloha or thank them with a friendly Mahalo. When I drive and have the opportunity for a courtesy wave I want to shake a shaka instead. I should try it and see what happens. Who knows, maybe it could cure road rage here too. I just don’t think other drivers will automatically let me in if I shake a shaka at them. That’s the unwritten rule in Hawaii.