Aloha One and All,
The Shaka sign is a famous hand gesture in Hawaii that loosely translates to "mahalo" thank-you, "alllriiiight", or the old school phrase "hang loose."
The actual gesture has a few slight variations. A fist and extended thumb and pinky is how the shaka is made. Sometimes folks will give it a little shake, and sometimes just lifting your pinky finger off of the steering wheel is enough of a shaka, meaning thanks. Depending on how "cool" you are, you may just give one shot downwards with your pinky pointing to the ground and thumb up. You can also shoot in at an angle to give a twist. The back of the hand is usually shown to the person who is on the receiving end. What ever one's personal style , the broad meaning is the same. I consider it a recognition of another person, no need for words.
It's a way to spread a little aloha, looking out for each other. The Hawaiian phrase "Malama i kekahi i kekahi" meaning "take care of one, take care of all" covers it.
One local news team used to end their segment with people from all over the community giving shaka to one and all. It was a friendly end to the news. I always liked to see the different styles.
The origins of the shaka are folks legends. One source says it developed out of the Spanish immigrants signaling to share a drink with the Hawaiians by bringing their thumbs up to their mouths and "tilting".
Another story is that it comes form a local folk hero from the 1940's with a malformed had due to an accident in the sugar mill.
I was just thinking that it has been awhile since I have seen it used freely. I use it in traffic all the time. Some folks in my ohana, family, use it to show aloha to their peers.
To see President Obama shaka the Punahoe Marching Band gave everybody in Hawaii "chicken skin." Hearts fluttered, eyes welled with tears, and folks felt proud of their native son.
Here's hoping we see more shaka, I've missed it!