May Day is Lei Day in Hawaiʻi
On May 1st we celebrate May Day. Here in Hawaiʻi, that means flowers and lei galore! Did you know that each island has its own official flower? Maui's is the rose.
Roses aren't native to Hawaiʻi. They arrived from New England in the early-1800s and were introduced by either the whalers or the missionaries. A deep pink variety of the damask rose pictured here became so popular in the gardens of Lāhainā that folks began to call it "Maui's rose." The name for it in Hawaiian is lokelani, or heavenly rose. Before long, composers of Hawaiian mele (song) began to sing its praises, and by 1923, the Territorial Legislature officially recognized lokelani as the flower of Maui.
May 1st is truly all about the lei! As we say, May Day is Lei Day in Hawai'i. The first Lei Day was actually celebrated in 1928. It featured a pageant with a queen accompanied by a court of island princesses. There was music and hula, and the very best lei makers from around the islands entered their prized creations into a lei-making competition.
The beautiful thing about lei-making is that it can happen anywhere and with virtually anything. See for yourself in this tutorial hosted by Mehana Vaughn, where you'll learn how to make beautiful lei in the wili style she learned from her grandmother. This is just one of a series of tutorials presented by a Kanaeokana, a network of Hawaiian schools and educators.