If there is one thing that speaks of the tropics, and specifically of Hawaii, it’s that colorful and festive string of flowers known as the Lei. Lei Dei celebrates these traditional gifts for visitors to the islands, and to bring awareness to the little details about it that aren’t immediately apparent to the casual visitor. This celebration focuses on the Hawaiian culture, and the aloha spirit. Whether you’ve been to the jewel of the pacific or not, Lei Day is an opportunity to dream of the islands, and plan a visit (or a return!) to their lush green shores.

History of Lei Day

The Lei has played an important part in the history and culture of the native Hawaiian people. Anyone who has ever been there or seen images of the islands know that they are verdant and abundant playgrounds full of explosive color and sound that create a cacophony of peace and relaxation. Each of the islands have a flower that represent it, from the bright red lehua blossom from the Big Island, to the bright yellow Kauna’o flower of Lanai.

1929 saw the establishment of Lei Day, though celebrations of the event started 2 years prior in 1927 at the bank of Hawaii, and eventually landed in Kapi’olani park. Lei Day has a distinctive and unique style to it, with celebrations (sometimes contentiously) demonstrating the blend of cultures that have come to call the islands home. Everything from the musical traditions to styles of dance have all been incorporated to create an amazing blended culture that at its core is nothing but Hawaiian.

Concerns do exist that the blending of cultures throughout the islands will result in the loss of the Hawaiian cultural identity as generations go on, and that ethnic values will decline as well. Lei Day walks the line of this conflict by celebrating Hawaiian culture, and introducing others to it.

How to celebrate Lei Day

Leis represent joy, hope, love, farewell, and a multitude of other meanings based on when they’re given and their composition. If you’re in the islands, each one has their own way of celebrating, so maybe pick a few to visit during the celebration. If you’re away from the islands, try researching the lei and its symbolism, and then give leis of your own to those around you and those you care about. It can be a great way to share a little bit of Hawaiian culture, and a bit of the tropics to your life wherever you are.

Key Info

Every May 1st
Founded by
Don Blanding and Grace Tower Warren

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