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22 Things You Might Not Know About Hawaii

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ThinkStock

Hau`oli la Hanau, Hawaii! Yes, you read that right. It was only 54 years ago today that Hawaii became a U.S. state. Let's celebrate with 22 facts about the Aloha State.   

1. If you guessed that "hau`oli la hanau" means "happy birthday," you're right. But you might need that sounded out: how-oh-lay la ha-now. The Hawaiian language comes with a bit of a learning curve. For starters, there's only a 13-letter alphabet and every word—and syllable—ends with one of five vowels. 

2. That apostrophe-like mark you see in some words is called an ʻokina. It's a consonant that signifies a slight pause. If two words are spelled exactly alike, but one has an ʻokina, you're looking at two different words. For example, "moa" means "chicken," while "mo'a" means "cooked." 

3. The kahakō symbol is a line placed over a vowel. It directs speakers to stretch out a vowel sound. Speaking of which....

A is pronounced “ah”
E is pronounced “eh”
I is pronounced “ee”
O is pronounced “oh”
U is pronounced “oo”

You might be wondering, "Is there a great song to summarize everything I just read? A fun song for children that will get stuck in my head all day long?" Yes, here it is:

4. The state of Hawaii consists of 8 main islands, the biggest of which is called, you guessed it, the Big Island. The Big Island's official name is Hawai'i.

5. The Big Island's getting bigger—by more than 42 acres each year—thanks to Kīlauea Volcano. It's been erupting for 30 years!

6. Mauna Loa, the world's biggest volcano, is also on the Big Island. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields. Most recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope simulating a Mars space station.

7. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. (Also: It can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean.)

8. The Aloha State's also good at growing ... people. It's got the highest life expectancy in the United States, despite the fact that...

9. The people of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the U.S.

10. The average life expectancy of 81.3 years might have something to do with the fact that the state's healthcare system insures more than 90 percent of its residents and focuses on preventive care. Since 1975, businesses have been legally required to insure employees who work over 20 hours per week. 

11. No matter how old you are, only people with Hawaiian ancestry are called “Hawaiians.” People of non-Hawaiian ancestry—even those born and raised there—call themselves “locals."

12. One Hawaiian: Theridion grallator, also known as the happy face spider.

13. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans (38.6 percent) and multiracial Americans (23.6 percent) in the United States. It also has the lowest percentage of White Americans (24.7 percent).

14. Regardless of ancestry, most families traditionally celebrate a child's first birthday with a luau.

15. No celebration's complete without a lei. The flower garlands come with strict rules. For starters, it's impolite to refuse a lei, remove it in front of the person who gave it to you, or wear one that you intend to give to someone else. A lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should traditionally be returned to the earth, ideally to where its flowers were gathered. And it's bad luck to give a tied lei to a pregnant woman, as it suggests an umbilical cord around a baby's neck.

16. There are no seagulls in Hawaii. The closest thing is the white tern, a seabird that lays eggs directly on tree branches without building a nest to protect them. 

Wikimedia Commons

17. Hawaii has its own time zone 10 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. It's also one of two U.S. states that doesn't practice Daylight Saving Time. (Arizona's the other one.)

18. Barbecue aficionados in Hawaii prefer meat smoked with guava wood, instead of hickory or mesquite.

19. The state gem isn't a gem at all. Black coral is technically an animal, but it's often used to make jewelry.

20. The Aloha State is one of four that have outlawed billboards. (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.)

21. Snakes are also outlawed. The only legal serpents are housed in zoos.

22. When you picture a beautiful Hawaiian getaway, you might imagine a black or white beach. They also come in yellow, red, and green

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Courtesy of Freeman's
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History
For Sale: More Than 150 Items of Victorian Mourning Art, Clothing, and Jewelry
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Courtesy of Freeman's

Funeral fashion hasn't always been reserved for memorial services, judging from a massive memento mori auction that's being billed as perhaps the largest collection of mourning art ever offered for sale. Spotted by Atlas Obscura and sponsored by Philadelphia-based Freeman’s auction house, the online sale—which kicks off on Wednesday, November 15—features more than 150 works from a renowned private collection, ranging from clothing and jewelry to artworks.

During the Victorian era, people paid tribute to their loved ones by wearing black mourning garb and symbolic accessories. (The latter often featured jet or real locks of hair, according to a 2008 article published in the academic journal Omega.) They also commissioned death-themed artworks and objects, including paintings, as exhibited by Angus Trumble's 2007 book Love & Death: Art in the Age of Queen Victoria.

These items have long since fallen out of fashion, but some historic preservationists amassed their own macabre private collections. Anita Schorsch, who’s arguably the most famous collector of memento mori, used her historic treasures to launch the Museum of Mourning Art back in 1990. Located in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, the museum is—as its name suggests—the only institution in the nation devoted exclusively to mourning art. The museum has been closed since Schorsch's death in 2015, and the items featured in Freeman's auction are from her collection.

Check out some of its memento mori below, or view the online catalogue here.

Hairwork choker, 19th century-mori, from the Collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch
Hairwork choker, 19th century-mori, from the Collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch
Courtesy OF Freeman's


Hairwork shroud pin, 19th century, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

Gold, enamel and pearl "Stuart crystal" mourning slide, made in late 17th century England and part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Gold, enamel and pearl "Stuart crystal" mourning slide, made in late 17th century England and part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

Group of 19th century ladies and gentleman's mourning costumes, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Group of 19th century ladies and gentleman's mourning costumes, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's


18th century iron and brass cemetery padlock from London, England, part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017
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History
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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