"May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii…” This famous phrase to those of us in Hawaii helps us remember the annual festivities for as long as we can reminisce. At school, there was always a Lei Day court with students voted in as king, queen, and royal entourage from the islands, typically representing the colors of those islands through dance, kahili, and sometimes even through the flowers they wore. One thing has stood even longer than that… the Lei. Lei now are given upon greeting a close friend or relative that has been away from the islands for years, at special occasions such as weddings, parties, graduation, and other major events. However, to not wear a lei on Lei day is to show that you may not be from around these parts.
The normal fragrances throughout the land are replaced on Lei day, or May 1, with the popular fragrances of plumeria, ginger, puakenikeni, and if you are lucky, the dainty pikake.
Although this tradition has been around for what would seem to be a long time, Lei Day being in May started sometime around 1928 officially. Please click on the links below to see how the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Lei Day competitions focus on this long-standing tradition.