We all have made the Shaka sign at least once or twice but what does it truly mean?
Surfers and Stand-up Paddlers across the globe can be seen flashing the Shaka sign to one another. It is also often interpreted as “hang loose.” The sign went mainstream years ago, though many tourists have no idea where the sign came from or what it actually means.
The Shaka originated in Hawaii. Surfers would visit the volcanic island on surf trips then take the iconic gesture home with them. In Hawaii, it is ubiquitous, and carries a number of different meanings. It can mean: “Thanks;” “Cool;” “Yeah;” “Hello;” or “Goodbye.” When asked to define the sign, Hawaiians say it is a sign of Aloha, meaning appreciation and love. For them, it is their positive lifestyle.
It is interesting to note that, Hawaiian locals say that one rule to respect is that the back of the hand should face the recipient of the greeting. The gesture is also often punctuated with a subtle oscillating.
A closer look at the origins of the Shaka reveals a bit of a legend. Totalsup reports:
The Shaka sign originated from a man on the East side of Oahu who lost three fingers in a sugar mill accident. The accident only left him with his thumb and his little finger. There are many differents stories on how the worker lost his finger but there is one thing everyone agrees on: the man’s name is Hamana Kalili. The same story also goes that Hamana was put in charge of guarding the sugar train to Sunset Beach after the accident and it is his all-clear gestureindicating that the train was free of unwanted train jumpers that would become today’s Shaka.
Much less plausible explanations include a surfer whose fingers were bitten off by a shark.
Other sources point out that it could also come from Spanish immigrants in Hawaii who would take their thumbs to their lips and fold their middle fingers to symbolize sharing a drink.
Allegedly, the word shaka came from a 1960’s television commercial, where a car salesman used the sign and the catch phrase, “Shaka Bradah!” No one knows, for sure, other than that.
Check out this funny video that relates a version of the story: