Monday, August 27, 2007


Cathy from It Will Be Funny Tomorrow posted a poll on how people live in different countries (or different states). Since we have lived in Hawaii for over ten years, I'd like to try answering her questions. Now I wasn't born in Hawaii, so I may have a different perspective than someone truly local, but these are my impressions.

Culture Questions

What is (roughly) your daily schedule? What time does work begin? What time does it end? How about meal times? Does your country go in for the afternoon rest time?
My daily schedule is quite different than others because I do not work and am a night owl. I can stay up quite late (2 am) and get up late (9 am to 10am), but the people who work in Hawaii have a very different schedule. Several things to consider when thinking about Hawaii: first, Hawaii is very close to the equator. That means that the length of the day only varies by barely an hour from the longest day to the shortest day. There is almost no twilight or dusk. The sun sets quickly. On June 21, 2007, it started to get light at 5:21 am, the sun rose at 5:46 am, set at 7:10 pm, and by 7:35 pm it was DARK. On December 21, 2007 it will get light by 6:34 am, the sun will rise at 6:58 am, the sun will set at 5:50 pm, and by 6:14 pm it will be dark. Secondly, there is no daylight savings time in Hawaii, so Hawaii is six hours behind East Coast Daylight Savings Time (summer) and five hours behind East Coast Standard Time (winter). People who have to interact with the mainland (especially stock brokers who follow the markets) get up EARLY. Even a lot of businesses are open at 7 am and could close as early as 3 pm or 4 pm. This includes many government offices. So most people here get up early and go to bed early. On Maui another consideration is the impact of tourists. There are only about 140,000 residents on Maui and over 17 million tourists. Many of the tourists are still on mainland time, so many of the activities start at dawn (or earlier, 3 am for hotel pickup for the downhill bike ride on Haleakala.)

Another consideration is the makeup of the Hawaiian population. Only 26.8% of the population is Caucasian as opposed to 80.2% of the mainland population. Asians make up 41.5% of the population (and almost all of the politicians) with around 9% Polynesians. 20.1% of the population are of mixed races (only 1.5% on the mainland.) This means that what people eat here is rice based and includes food from many different cultures (sometimes all on one plate!) Meals are roughly the same as the mainland. If people eat breakfast they might stop by MacDonald's or Zippy's and get some Spam and rice and eggs. Lunch could be from 11 am (if they start early) to noon and will probably be a "plate lunch", two scoops of rice, macaroni salad and a meat like Kalbi (Korean spareribs), Teri Chicken, or Fish. Beef Stew over rice is also popular. Dinner again is possibly as early as 5 pm. On weekends many Hawaiians gather in large family groups and have a BBQ in a local park. Most all of the local parks are on a beach and include plenty of grills and concrete picnic tables.

Few Hawaiians nap unless they were up early surfing and plan to go out drinking later that night.

What is the predominate language spoken in your country? Are many people bi-lingual?
Hawaiians are Americans (which sometimes people from the mainland forget) and speak English. Some people learn Hawaiian, but if they learn a foreign language it will probably be Japanese (unless they already speak that at home). People, especially those on Oahu, who interact with tourists need some Japanese. There is also a lot of local lingo and a particular cadence to Hawaiian speech.

What sports are popular in your country?
Outdoor sports are the most popular in the islands; surfing, snorkeling, scuba, sailing, windsurfing, and hiking are loved by many Hawaiians. College sports (especially UH football) is popular (and some players go on to play in the NFL) and many Hawaiians have a favorite NFL team from the mainland. Baseball is popular. Some Hawaiian Little League teams go to the mainland for the Little League World Series every year. Kids in school play a lot of soccer. UH has a basketball team, but basketball is not very popular.

Are there supermarkets where you live?
There are Safeways in Maui, also Star Markets, and Foodlands. All food is expensive because almost all of it is imported. Even milk and eggs are cheaper to import than to produce locally. Still there are bunches of Farmer's Markets (a very nice one in the largest shopping mall) and everyone knows someone who gives away papayas or mangoes from the tree in their yard.

Who are the real-life heros in your country?
This is hard for me to say. Politicians can have a long, long life in Hawaii and are probably more well respected here than in many parts of the mainland. Native Hawaiians look back to the ancient Hawaiian chieftains. Christians look back on the missionaries who first settled here. Developers praise visionaries who developed large resort complexes and brought in millions of tourists.

Is there a day you celebrate your country? What is the celebration like?
There are several uniquely Hawaiian holidays. First, because of the large Asian population, firecrackers are sold on major American holidays, like the Fourth of July and New Year's Day. I used to see people filling up shopping carts with thousands of strings of firecrackers and hear people lighting them off all over the island. Now people who wish to set off firecrackers must get a $25 permit and are limited to 5,000 firecrackers per permit. Sushi is the universal food that is always served on New Year's Day. Supermarkets sell huge platters of sushi just before the new year. There are plenty of county fairs and small festivals for food, music, and film throughout the islands. Maui just had the Maui Onion Festival.

The first week in April is the Merrie Monarch Festival. It celebrates the art of Hula. Groups practice for months and much of the event is broadcast on local television. The third Friday in August is Statehood Day (formerly Admission Day, when Hawaii became a recognized state of the union rather than just a territory). Government offices are closed, but little else happens after several years of protests by Native Hawaiians. The Aloha Festival in September and October also celebrate Hawaiian culture with dance, music, canoe races and the crowning of a King and Queen.


Cathy said...

Cool! I really love hearing about other cultures, and even though Hawaii is a state, it's definitely a different culture. Shane Victorino, who is my favorite Phillies player is originally from Hawaii.

Jennifer said...

Gah. You always make me miss Hawaii so much!

Mindi said...

Thank you so much for posting this information about Hawaii, I learned a lot. I was actually born there, but moved away when I was 2 years old, so don't remember anything, and have never been back.

Kristina said...
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Chiasmata said...

It was great to read all about Hawaii. I like the sound of the Merrie Monarch Festival!

Meari said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. It's interesting to read about the things you blog about. :)