In Hawaii, every May 1st marks the cherished and beloved May Day or Lei Day in Hawai‘i – a tribute to the culturally significant symbol, the lei. Lei day is celebrated by the locals and honors the crafting and wearing of the Hawaiian lei. Today, people continue to wear and exchange leis on various special occasions like graduations, birthdays and weddings. Nowadays, leis are made from flowers, but lei s can be crafted with leaves, nuts, shells, feathers or ribbon.
Lei Day began in 1927 when the first Lei Day Celebration was held on Oahu. Lei Day has inspired many. Notably Ruth and Leonard “Red” Hawk wrote “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.” Across all of the Hawaiian Islands, schools celebrate Lei Day with songs and various hula dances. And it is also common for there to be a procession of the Lei Day Court in which a King and Queen represent the eight Hawaiian islands.
The Lei Day Celebration takes place each year at Queen Kapiolani Park – the event includes hula performances, music, shopping, food and lei-making demonstrations in addition to the renowned lei contest exhibit. Make an appearance at this year’s celebration and make sure to dress accordingly! Aloha shirts and mu‘umu‘u are the preferred attire, and Hilo Hattie has just what you need to make a grand entrance!
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