May Day is still Lei Day in Hawai’i

Local News


Aloha prevails in Hawai‘i during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although efforts to combat the virus have impacted our lives in so many ways, it has not wavered the Spirit of Aloha that unites us as island residents.

In fact, it has strengthened that spirit. 

May Day (May 1) is still Lei Day in Hawai‘i.

With the cancellation of the 93rd Annual Lei Day Celebration at Kapi‘olani Park, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) encourages everyone around Hawai‘i to join us in celebrating Lei Day in a new way. 

DPR is proud to announce Nā Lei Koa Day (Warrior Lei Day), an opportunity for all island residents to display aloha and show their appreciation for the warriors battling the Coronavirus; our first responders, medical professionals, and essential workers who are keeping us safe and working hard during this global pandemic. 

As part of Nā Lei Koa Day, residents are invited to make a lei using items found in and around your home, then display it safely from your mail box (without covering your address), front door handle, balcony, etc. on May 1, from sunrise to sunset. 

Be sure to share your pictures of your lei on social media by using the hashtag #naleikoa and tagging DPR on @honolulu_parks, that way the whole world can experience the Spirit of Aloha.  

Along with showing our appreciation for those protecting us during this pandemic, Nā Lei Koa Day also recognizes the warriors who are making sacrifices by remaining at home to prevent the spread of the virus. We all have our own kuleana (responsibility) during this challenging time. 

For most of us this involves staying in our homes, practicing social distancing, wearing masks while out in public, washing hands frequently, and going out only when necessary for essential needs.

It is everyone’s kuleana to remember these sacrifices and think as a community during these difficult times, because we are all in this together. 

The idea for Nā Lei Koa Day was initiated by Lorraine Garnier of Kailua (Ko‘olaupoko Ahupua‘a).

She collaborated with DPR Lei Day Celebration organizer, Kaiulani Kauahi, to develop this unique way of sharing the Spirit of Aloha amidst the cancellation of Hawaiian cultural events and Stay at Home Orders. 

“I feel what our islands can bring and our planet need now more than ever is hope,” said Garnier. “I remember all of the times when the kindness, warmth, and spirit of our communities wrapped extreme news stories with hope through lei-making – as we joined together to lift up spirits elsewhere. I truly believe Nā Lei Koa Day is exactly what we need across the globe. I am grateful to the Department of Parks and Recreation for helping to bring this to fruition.”

The lei is known the world over as the symbol of aloha and Hawaiian culture. Great care is taken into the gathering of the materials to make a lei. After the materials are gathered, they are prepared and then fashioned into a lei. As this is done, the mana (or spirit) of the creator of the lei is sewn or woven into it. Therefore, when you give a lei, you are giving a part of you. Likewise, as you receive a lei, you are receiving a part of the creator of the lei. 

Though current social distancing guidelines discourage the traditional way of giving lei, we are confident that the spirit of the day, the lei, and aloha will be felt by all during Nā Lei Koa Day. 

Need help learning to make lei? DPR will be releasing a video soon on how to make lei using household items, and the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts (MOCA) has begun a “Lei Making at Home” online learning experience providing step-by-step tips on how to make a variety of lei using natural materials.

Check them out on MOCA’s Facebook and Instagram.

Please make sure to properly dispose of your lei following Nā Lei Koa Day, especially if the lei is made from non-perishable materials such as plastic.

Mahalo and stay healthy.

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