Reinstating a historical Hawaii state holiday could replace Good Friday

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Should a historical Hawaiian day of recognition replace Good Friday as an official state holiday? That’s one of the possibilities being discussed by lawmakers.

Senator Kalani English drafted the bill to make La Ku’oko’a day a holiday in Hawaii

“This is an old a very old Hawaiian Holiday and it was recognized by the kingdom of Hawaii and the provisional government, by the Republic of Hawaii by the territory of Hawaii…The British and the French issued a joint declaration in the 1840s recognizing Hawaii as a sovereign power,” English explained.

It’s significant because the declaration solidified Hawaii as an international entity.

“That put Hawaii at an equal level in the world at a time when about 50 countries were recognized as countries,” English said.

The Hawaii State Archives have a copy of the Anglo-French Declaration that was signed November 28, 1843 . The Kingdom of Hawaii then name the day La Ku’oko’a in 1847. It was recognized as a State holiday from 1847 until 1903.

There are currently 13 state holidays recognized by the Hawaii State Government. Three of them are specific to the islands: Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniahaole Day (March 26th), King Kamehameha Day (June 11th) and Statehood Day (August 16th).

La Ku’oko’a Day would be celebrated on November 28th.

English said the time is right to reinstate the holiday, recognizing the evolution of Hawaii from a monarchy to a democracy.

Mililani resident Dain Azumi said he thinks we should actually have more holidays recognizing our Hawaiian heritage. 

“It’s important to remember our culture,” Azumi added.

Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu said it’s about honoring our Hawaiian culture and history when so much of it has disappeared.

“Our original place names, our holidays, and our language. All of these things slowly but surely have found themselves out. Even most recently to change the name of our airport from the Honolulu International Airport to a non-Hawaiian name,” Wong-Kalu said.

One suggestion by lawmakers would swap Good Friday for La Ku’oko’a Day.

“I think the arguements for Good Friday are very good because we have the separation between church and state, and so the religious holidays can still be celebrated by those practitioners. But for government to be celebrating it as an official holiday, that has been not as accepted across the United States. We are one of only 12 states out of 50 that still celebrates Good Friday,” English said.

The other option is to keep Good Friday and add La Ku’oko’a Day. But that would have financial implications.

“If we would try to pit our Hawaiian holiday against the option that’s going to cost money, it would be an easy doorway for somebody else to come and attack it. And we would not be successful in the reinstatement of the holiday,” Wong-Kalu said.

The proposal already passed the Senate. English said it still has to go through the Judiciary and Finance Committee in the House before they come together for a final vote.

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