May 1 is a special day in Hawaii, and we want to tell our fans all around the world about it! Known as LEI DAY, we spend the day celebrating island culture and the culture of the Native Hawaiians…and decorate ourselves with leis!
Lei Day – May first – was the brainchild of Don Blanding. In 1927 he came up with the idea of a uniquely Hawaiian holiday that everyone could celebrate. His editors at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin presented it to the public and the idea was enthusiastically embraced. Leonard “Red” and Ruth Hawk composed “May Day Is Lei Day in Hawai’i”, the traditional holiday song. Originally it was a contemporary fox trot, later rearranged as the Hawaiian hula song performed today.
Lei Day became an official holiday in 1929. During those first years the event included the selection of a Lei Day queen and court. Lei Day celebrations continue today, marking the first day of May with lei-making competitions, concerts, and the giving and receiving of lei among friends and family.
At the 81st Annual Mayor’s Lei Day Celebration at Kapiolani Park in 2008, Honolulu set the record for the World’s Longest Lei. Unofficially, the lei measured 5,336 feet in length, more than a mile. “We exceeded our goal,” said Mayor Mufi Hannemann. “We were hoping to reach one mile. I want to thank the people of Honolulu, and especially the dedicated and hard working members of our Department of Parks and Recreation in addition to our corporate sponsors and volunteers, for making Lei Day 2008 the biggest and best in recent memory.”
In Hawaii, May Day is Lei Day a holiday celebrating the island culture of giving and the significance of the lei. A gift of honor and affection, the lei is a symbol of aloha, and Hawaiian Airlines wanted to share this experience with the world. Watch how 100,000 flowers transformed in to acts of aloha across the globe. Ocean Vodka is the exclusive vodka served on Hawaiian Airlines!
All of the major islands celebrate Lei Day, and each island is symbolized in pagentry by a specific type of lei and a color.
Hawaiʻi: red, ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha)
Maui: pink, lokelani (Rosa damascena)
Kahoʻolawe: gray or silver, hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum var. argentum)
Lānaʻi: orange, kaunaʻoa (Cuscuta sandwichiana)
Oʻahu: yellow or gold, ʻilima (Sida fallax)
Molokaʻi: green, kukui (Aleurites moluccana)
Kauaʻi: purple, mokihana (Melicope anisata)
Niʻihau: white, pūpū o Niʻihau (Niʻihau shells)