May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii

Every year on May 1st, a statewide celebration takes place that’s quintessentially Hawaiian: May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii! Whether at work, school, strolling through town or going to the grocery store, everyone celebrates Lei Day by wearing a lei as a symbol of Aloha — as well as to honor the cherished custom of making and giving a lei.

An Island tradition since 1927, Lei Day was first conceived by writer/poet Don Blanding, a journalist at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He shared his idea with fellow newspaper columnist Grace Tower Warren, who coined the phrase, “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.” Soon thereafter, a song of the same name was composed by Ruth and Leonard “Red” Hawk. By 1929, the governor of Hawaii (Wallace Farrington) signed a Lei Day proclamation that encouraged residents to honor the traditions of Hawaii Nei by wearing and displaying lei.

Eventually, Lei Day evolved into an official holiday, as proclaimed by the Hawaii State Legislature in 2001. Schools celebrate Lei Day with festivities, pageants and dance programs. Lei-making contests and festivals take place throughout the islands. All styles of lei can be seen on Lei Day — everything fragrant florals like pikake, plumeria, crown flowers, orchids and maile vine, to novelty lei made of candy, golf balls or bottles of whiskey. A few years ago on Oahu, lei-makers on May Day created a giant lei that spanned more than 5,000 feet in Kapiolani Park. Anything goes on Lei Day, as long as you wear a lei!
At Holualoa Inn, flowers and flora are in full bloom on Lei Day. Our orchid nursery unveils a bounty of beautiful florals that we use for making fresh arrangements found in every room and suite at the Inn. When you stay at our romantic Hawaiian B&B, you’re sure to marvel at the abundance of tropical flowers everywhere!

“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”

Happy Lei Day, everybody!
Innkeeper Holualoa Inn