Lei Day is celebrated on May 1st of every year. Culture is the one thing that defines who you’re and where you belong too. In the same way, there are lots of celebrations taking place all over the world and Hawaii is not an exception. Irrespective of the place and country, there is one thing present in common, and that is none other than showing love and affection in the traditional way. Anyone who has visited Hawaii earlier knows that Lei is used as the most popular and traditional way of welcoming, send-off, and other emotions. For others, it is nothing but a garland or wreath strung together and is gifted as a symbol of affection to those visitors. Thus Lei, a symbol of aloha has been marked with a special day of its own called Lei Day in Hawaii and has been celebrated throughout the nation. Those who have been remembering the popular phrase ‘May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii Nei,’ would never forget this colorful and festive string of flowers known as the Lei.
“In Hawaii they say, “aloha.” That’s a nice one, It means both “hello” and “good-bye” Which just goes to show, if you spend enough time in the sun you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.” – George Carlin
History of Lei Day
The day has been celebrated since the year 1928. Don Blanding and Grace Tower Warren are regarded as the founders of this colorful celebration festivity. Since then people of Hawaii are celebrating this very Day on May 1st of every year. The day is aimed at celebrating the Hawaiian culture of Lei that is also known as the Aloha spirit. The Day is a statewide celebration in all the islands of Hawaii as the eight main Hawaiian Islands have got unique Lei flowers that are used in the Lei Day celebrations. The celebration will usually begin on the morning of May first every year, and it continues throughout the entire day, and sometimes official events will continue onto the next day. The day was has been officially recognized as a holiday in the year 1929. However, the first celebration started two years earlier in the year 1927. The event was held at the bank of Hawaii and then it moved to the town hall, and finally to the Kapi’olani Park.
It was Don Blanding, a writer, and poet who was the first person to suggest the need for this holiday in his article written in the local newspaper by stating that there should be a holiday celebrated around the state for the wearing and production of Leis. It was Grace Tower Warren, a writer, and the assistant Don has come up with the idea that this holiday should coincide with May Day. Thus the first celebration of this Day had fallen on May 1, 1928. It was Grace who also coined the term ” May Day is Lei Day.” The Lei has been found to be playing an important part in the history and culture of the native Hawaiian people. The importance of the Lei to the Hawaiian culture is that it represents the unspoken expression of aloha and it may be anything like a greeting, farewell, love, hope, or joy. The Day is celebrated on all the islands of Hawaii with music, hula shows, lei and craft exhibitions, hula dancing, lessons in Hawaiian song, lei making, lauhala weaving, and more.
People commonly celebrate this Day by giving gifts of Leis to one another. Most of the people will dress up in Aloha wear which will usually be brightly colored shirts and dresses with large floral prints. They will also wear fresh, fragrant, and colorful flowers or Lei on this day. It is the traditional flower garland or the wreath that people wear as a necklace or as a crown on their heads. In other words, Lei is any series of objects that are strung together with the intention to be worn. The most popular concept of the Lei in Hawaiian culture is a wreath of flowers that will usually be presented as a symbol of affection upon arriving or leaving the state. Each island in Hawaii will have a specific Lei that represents that specific island.
Among the eight main islands of Hawaii, Lei from the Hawai’i or the Big Island has the beautiful red pua lehua blossoms from the ohia tree, whereas the island of Maui‘s Lei flower is called the Lokelani and is pink. The Oahu Island‘s Lei flower is called the Ilima and looks golden, and Molokai Island uses a flower named the Kukui which is a green color flower. Lanai Island has a yellow color grassy flower called Kauna’o with the Island of Kahoolawe’s flower being Hinahina which is a silver-grey color across the top. Kauai Island has plentiful mokihana flowers of beautiful green color, and the Island of Niihau‘s flower is a Pupu which is actually a shell. The custom of wearing Leis had been introduced to the native Hawaiians by the Polynesians who visited the islands.
Other Celebrations on May 1
May 1 is also celebrated as
- National Mother Goose Day
- National School Principals Day
- National Purebred Dog Day
- International Workers Day
- Executive Coaching Day
- National New Homeowners Day
How to Celebrate the day
Celebrating the day is quite simple. If you are somewhere around Hawaii, then take a visit to your relative’s or friend’s home to know about the Lei or the aloha spirit. You can even go to the islands to look at the leis of the specific islands. As the celebration is held all over the state, you can take part in the events held. Indulge yourself in the hula dancing with others to get into the spirit. You can even suit up in the Aloha wear and wear a Lei crown or necklace of Lei to express the Hawaiian culture. Gift your friends or family with beautiful and colorful Lei strings. Learn about Lei making and visit the Lei exhibitions to take a look at all the different kinds of Leis. Those who are away from Hawaii can get to know the custom and traditions of the Islands with a visit to the state. Share your Lei pictures along with your celebration photos on social media using the hashtag #LeiDay.
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