In ancient Hawaiʻi, men and woman ate their meals apart. Commoners and women of all ranks were also forbidden by the ancient tradition to eat certain foods. This changed in 1819, when King Kamehameha II is best remembered for the ‘Ai Noa, the breaking of the ancient kapu (tabu) system of religious laws, six months into his reign, when he sat down with Kaʻahumanu and his mother Keōpūolani and ate a meal together.
Up to about 170-years ago, the ʻahaʻaina or pāʻina were the calls to feast and party together. Later, a new term was used – Lūʻau – to refer to these festive events; however, it’s not clear when that term came into use. It’s interesting how a word that is associated as one of the most Hawaiian of activities (a feast,) is actually a relatively new term. The name came from the name of the young tender kalo (taro) leaves. An early reference, possibly the first time, was in an April 1, 1850 story in ‘The Friend.’