Hawaiian Ukulele from Madeira

Hawaiian Ukulele from Madeira

What are some of the first images that come to mind when thinking of Hawaii? Hoola girls, beaches, Hawaiian shirts and of course, the ukulele.

But little do people know that the ukulele is not originally Hawaiian, despite the fact that it has been made the official state “modern” musical instrument. The ukulele was actually introduced by Portuguese immigrants from Madeira in 1879. In fact, the first person to play the instrument on the island wasn’t a native Hawaiian but one of the Portuguese immigrants called, João Fernandes.

The original name for the ukulele was the “braguinha” but the Hawaiians renamed it to ukulele, translating as “jumping flea” due to the jumping hand motion when playing.

Since then, the instrument has become popular worldwide and even has a day set aside for it, that’s right, the 2 February is International Ukulele Day.

It is also estimated that around four percent of the Hawaiian population is of Portuguese decent.

Check out: Portuguese American Journal