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Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day is "Lei Day" in Hawaii!

A rainbow of leis waiting for your neck

If you make it to O'ahu, Hawaii on May 1st, you'll experience one of the most beloved island traditions. May Day is "Lei Day" in Hawaii. The very first Lei Day was held on May 1st, 1928, and practically every person in Honolulu observed the day by wearing all styles of handmade and store bought lei. In 1929, Lei Day was made an official holiday which continues to this day.

A May Day lei-making contest is held in Waikiki

Festivities are still held downtown and in Waikiki with hula, music, lei making demonstrations, exhibits and lei contests. At Kapiolani Park you can see the lei contest entries hung up in an outdoor viewing gallery which people from all over the world flock to see. Old-school leis and innovative ones made from seeds and other unconventional materials are featured there.

Kamehameha Statue draped in Hawaiian lei

At Iolani Palace (the only monarchical palace in the USA) the statue of King Kamehameha is draped in traditional green Maile' leaf wreathes and over-long, colorful flower garlands. The balmy climate seems to carry the perfume of Tuberose, Pikake and Plumeria into every corner of the Island. It reminds me of a thousand special occasions from weddings to birthdays to funerals I observed growing up in Hawaii.

My dad - the late, great Josefa Mo'e

May 1st is also my Father's birthday. He would have been 75 this year. My dad's name was Josefa Moe and he was a true Hawaii local and beach boy. Quite a celebrity around town. Dad was a graphic artist. He was also a knife dancer. The kind you see spinning sharp and often flaming blades at a luau. Dad was at the top of his field though the 50's, 60's and 70's performing worldwide and at the International Market Place and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Learning to swim with my dad in Waikiki

When I think of Lei Day and all the festivities that come with it, I always remember dad's birthday and that beach at Waikiki where dad taught all of his kids to swim. That's also where his 11 children scattered his ashes just a day or two before Don Ho joined him. Aloha, dad.


© Lyrics & Music: Leonard Hawk

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
Garlands of flowers everywhere
All of the colors in the rainbow
Maidens with blossoms in their hair

Flowers that mean we should be happy
Throwing aside a load of care
Oh, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
May Day is happy days out there

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful images and words. Happy Lei Day!