May Day is being celebrated as Lei Day in the islands in-person for the first time in three years due to Covid. In Hawaiian culture, the lei is said to represent Aloha. You can see more lei photos we’ve taken at the end of this post. Also read on for how you can obtain a free lei greeting on arrival in Hawaii.
History of May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
The first Lei Day was first held almost 100 years ago in 1928. Don Blanding, a Hawaiʻi poet, is credited with the idea to celebrate the beauty and importance of lei in Hawaii. A journalist at the time came up with the idea of having it be a Hawaiian holiday on May Day.
Lei Day became an annual statewide Hawaii holiday celebration of lei-making on all the islands each May 1st. Each Hawaiian island has contests and different types of lei (the same word is both singular and plural) and celebrations. The festivities have grown year after year.
Lei in Hawaii are frequently used a welcoming gifts for visitors and as celebrations of holidays and birthdays.
2022 celebration is the first in three years.
The County of Honolulu’s annual lei day celebration at Kapi’olani Park starts at 12:30 p.m with the official opening of the lei contest exhibit in Honolulu, overseen by the 2022 lei queen and court.
This year’s theme is Lei Wao Nahele or forest lei. In Honolulu, it will be celebrated with Hawaiian entertainment, exhibits, and demonstrations. A lei contest is always one of the day’s highlights, the best in class lei.
Lei Day 2021 featured a video presentation, and in 2020, Nā Lei Koa was to honor Hawaii first responders.
The islands each have a special flower and lei representation. The Big Island has the red lehua blossom. Kauai is green (of course) and is represented by the mokihana flower. Oahu is the ilima flower. Maui is the pink Lokelani. Molokai is the kukui tree and Lanai is the yellow Kaunao.
Free lei greeting offer today from Hawaiian airlines.
If you are flying to the islands between August 8 and September 30, and you purchase a ticket on Hawaiian Airlines today, Lei Day only, you’ll receive a free lei greeting when you arrive in Hawaii. You must use this special link to take advantage of this offer. Limited quantities are available.
The photos below are from an annual Kauai lei day celebration.
We have attended Lei Day celebrations for years. While once waiting to enter this popular Kauai festival, we made lei under the watchful eyes of experts in the craft. Inside there were beautiful lei including edible ones awaiting us, and entered in competition.
Below is a gallery of more exception lei. Please let us know which lei you like best.
If you’d like to make your own ribbon lei to celebrate this event anywhere in the world, this popular instructional video will guide you.
Post updated 5/1/22.