More than two decades after Kimo Kahoano recorded it, Islanders still sing along to the cheerful tune that begins, “It’s Aloha Friday, no work till Monday,” and many celebrate the end of the work week with a pau hana drink or two with friends.
The concept of Aloha Friday has spread even to the Mainland, as “casual Friday,” when office workers dress down a bit, and in some places the trend has moved to the wearing of Hawaiian-style shirts.
Which is only appropriate, because the whole idea of Aloha Friday grew out of early efforts to promote locally manufactured aloha shirts.
Back in 1946, when the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce first considered the wearing of aloha shirts during the summer months, the business community in Honolulu was still of a missionary mindset: never mind how hot it is, a proper businessman wears a suit and tie.
But the City and County of Honolulu, and later the territorial government, began to allow employees to wear sport shirts in plain colors from June through October each year. Aloha shirts were allowed only during Aloha Week.
In the early ‘60s designers came up with shirts in dignified, subdued designs, often with button-down collars, and a clothing manufacturers’ group launched a campaign to institute Aloha Friday. The tradition officially began in 1966 with Wilson P. Cannon, Jr. a Maui boy who was president of the Bank of Hawaii, wearing aloha shirts to the office.
Today, aloha shirts are everyday business wear, but knowing that it’s Aloha Friday still gives Islanders a little head start on the freedom of the weekend.