HONOLULU (KHON2) — In Hawaiʻi, May Day is Lei Day; and it falls on May 1 each year.
To celebrate this Lei Day in Hawaiʻi, many will be making their own lei. Some will even enter an annual lei contest at Kapiʻolani Regional Park.
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The City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation hosts the Lei Day Celebration which began in 1928.
This celebration also includes lei-making workshops.
According to the City, more and more people began to wear lei on May 1, thus began the tradition of “May Day is Lei Day in Hawai‘i.” But, that’s not the whole story.
KHON2 was able to catch up with Kumu Brad Lum to learn how to make our very own personalized lei.
Lum is a graduate of President William McKinley High School and is a Kumu Hula, chanter and wedding officiant. He is an active member of Hawai’i’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, and he will be a chanter at the lei day festivities at Kapiʻolani Regional Park.
Kumu Lum explained that the lei is a symbol of aloha. He said that a lei has the mana (power) of the person giving the lei.
“When you give a lei, you are giving part of you; when you receive a lei, you are connecting with the person giving you that lei,” explained Kumu Lum.
Kumu Lum said that Lei Day in Hawaiʻi coalesced around several different people, initially.
As the story goes, the poet Don Blanding wanted to create a day that would be devoted to the recognition of lei as well as celebrate lei giving and receiving.
He also said that Leonard Red and Ruth Hawk composed the beautiful mele (song) “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaiʻi” which is traditionally sung on Lei Day.
This led Bank of Hawaiʻi to celebrate the very first Lei Day in 1928, according to Kumu Lum.
Now that you know the basics, check out the video above. Kumu Lum provides easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to make your very own creation.
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So, go out this Lei Day and give a lei to the people you love and respect. Happy Lei Day from KHON2!