May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii. Here’s where to go for celebrations.by: Derek Paiva
posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 at 09:51 AM
Saturday is May 1—around the world, recognized as May Day, but here in Hawaii also affectionately celebrated as Lei Day.
It’s a day ripe with celebrations of Hawaiian culture. You’ll find a few more music and hula shows on May Day than other days, popular with both residents and visitors. You’ll find office workers heading to work sporting aloha wear and often wearing fresh, fragrant and colorful flower lei. Some Hawaii schools even host May Day celebrations for keiki (children), complete with the selection of a royal court and talent shows.
The origins of Hawaii’s celebration of May Day as Lei Day go all the way back to 1927, when Honolulu Star-Bulletin writer Don Blanding advocated the creation of a holiday honoring lei making and the custom of wearing lei. Blanding’s co-worker, columnist Grace Tower Warren, suggested May 1st May Day celebrations as ideal for the holiday, crafting what would become the day’s much-used tagline “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.”
Lei Day—or May Day, for that matter—never became an official state holiday. But since the first city Lei Day celebrations were held on May 1, 1928, the custom of wearing aloha wear and lei on the first of May has spread statewide. These days, cultural demonstrations, royal court processions, made in Hawaii craft sales and hula and music shows are all an essential and expected part of May Day in Hawaii.
The largest of the state’s celebrations is Honolulu’s official city May Day festivities at Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park Bandstand, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It's free and open to the public.
If you go, don’t forget to bring your camera. You’ll want it fully charged and ready for the investiture of the 2010 Lei Queen and her court at 10:15 a.m., and to snap photos of some of the finest and most unique examples of lei making you’re likely to see, at the annual May Day Lei Contest, open to the public from 12:30 p.m.
Hawaiian lei and craft exhibitions, demonstrations and vendors will be open on the bandstand grounds from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring keiki along to learn Hawaiian songs, hula, lei making, lauhala weaving and to hear stories at Tutu’s Hale (grandmother’s house) from 1 to 5 p.m. Grab some lunch from a selection of food booths, and hang out near the bandstand through the afternoon for live Hawaii music and hula halau (hula troupe) performances from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For a complete schedule of city May Day events at Kapiolani Park, map directions and other info, click here.
For more May Day events throughout Hawaii, click forward to next page.
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