History of Lei Day in Hawaii

The month of May brings the end of Spring, and many festive celebrations around the world, from Cinco de Mayo to Mother's Day. But in Hawaii, the first of the month brings perhaps the most colorful day of the year: Lei Day.

Lei Day dates back to the 1920s, when it was proposed by poet and author Dan Blanding. He and Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper columnist Grace Tower Warren declared that May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii, even inspiring a song that's sung to this day.

Giving, displaying, and celebrating the flower lei has been an annual tradition since the first Lei Day in 1927. While official Lei Day festivities faded during World War II, the tradition of wearing a lei on May 1 only grew stronger since.

The lei is a universal symbol of Hawaii, and of the aloha spirit. Each flower lei is carefully strung together by hand, and it is said that each lei is infused with the mana, or spirit, of the person who made it. Thus, each lucky recipient of this floral gift is receiving a part of that spirit.

While the City of Honolulu convenes a Lei Day court, holds contests and hosts concerts, Lei Day spans all the islands. And there's no reason you can't celebrate Lei Day wherever you are! Wear a lei and share a lei to kick off the month of May. And if tropical flowers are scarce where you are, a colorful array of lei patterns can be found on our Hawaiian shirts and dresses!