May Day is Lei Day

May Day is Lei Day

Here in Hawai‘i, nothing says May Day (lei day) like a beautiful Pua Melia Lei… the sweet, heavy-scented flower takes me back to the many May Day celebrations growing up. I remember the days we spent making lei with my mom and sister in preparation for Kīlauea Elementary’s May Day celebrations on Kaua‘i. In high school, I participated in May Day pageants with friends, and after graduation, I would join my Tūtū - all decked out in a mu‘umu‘u, fresh lei po‘o, and pua keni keni lei—to visit her lei-making friends, eat Hawaiian food, and enjoy the Honolulu lei queen pageant. 

 

 

Today, these treasured traditions continue with my own family. Alongside dear friends, we gather to create lei for our children's school celebrations. May Day festivities include lei-making contests, pageants, hula, and Hawaiian music concerts. I am always in awe of the abundant lei shared amongst friends and family as we all come together in celebration of our Hawai‘i heritage.

 

 

May Day holds historical significance as a day when people gather to celebrate the beauty and symbolism of lei, which have been an integral part of Hawaiian culture for countless generations. In my book Lei Aloha, my interview with the legendary Robert Cazimero so beautifully articulated what this day is all about here in Hawai‘i: 

 

 

“When I think of May Day, I see a big lei [of people] around the Waikīkī Shell, all the way out to the grass,” said kumu hula and beloved entertainer Robert Cazimero, when I called to ask him about his favorite memories of lei. His annual concert, which began in 1978 and ran for thirty years, capped a day of May Day festivities in Kapi‘olani Park and was a treasured tradition for many Honolulu families, including mine. “All kinds of people. Local people, mainland people, but everybody taking the opportunity to have a big party. Why? Because we all love lei. We all love to make lei, wear lei, give lei.” 

 

 

This year, we will be having our first HIE May Day Trunk Show hosted by the Kaimana Beach Hotel, which is located right across from Kapi‘olani Park where the annual Annual Lei day celebrations are held. We are so excited to share the HIE collection along with a Lei Aloha Book Signing as a part of this years May Day celebration. Vintage mu’umu’u will brought by DeStash Hawai‘i and we will of course have lei-making hosted by The Lei Bar! 

 

 

If you are on O‘ahu, I hope you stop by and join us! Happy May Day everyone!

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