Hawaii may soon have America’s first official state gesture

On May 1st Hawaiian legislators are due to vote on a bill that would make the shaka—the “hang loose” gesture—a state symbol. Hawaiians and surfers use the hand signal (made by folding three fingers down while extending the thumb and little finger, and sometimes twisting the wrist) in many ways: to say aloha, for instance, or let someone pass while driving. “I would describe it as a symbol of happiness,” said Glenn Wakai, who introduced the bill in the state Senate. If approved by legislators and the governor, Josh Green, signs it into law, it would be America’s first official state gesture.

It would join a rich and varied list of symbols across the country—more than 1,670 in all, a cornucopia of flora, fauna and cultural exotica. Maine has a state treat, the whoopie pie. South Carolina has a style of dance, the shag. State reptiles abound, from the horned toad (Wyoming) to the collared lizard (Oklahoma). New Mexico even has an official state aroma, the smell of “green chile roasting in the fall”.