The 1st of May, otherwise known as May Day is a day in Hawaii where friends, family, and the community show aloha by making as well as giving away flower leis. May Day was originally a celebration observed across much of Europe that typically involved dancing, feasts, music, and other festivities. One common thread that tied all of these celebrations together was flowers. The use of seasonal blooms in decorations, costumes, and headwear was a way to mark the spring season and welcome the approaching summer.
In Hawaii, the writer and poet Don Blanding came up with the idea in 1927 to celebrate Lei Day on May 1st rather than May Day because he saw it as an opportunity to dedicate an entire day to the Hawaiian tradition of lei making. Since the vast majority of leis are made from plumeria flowers and other Hawaiian blooms, the idea seemed like a natural progression. By 1929 Lei Day became an official state holiday that is still observed every year.
Lei Day 2020 looks very different than in previous years because of the Coronavirus outbreak. For obvious reasons, the state’s largest Lei Day gathering at Queen Kapiolani Park on Oahu has been canceled. In response to the disappointment felt by the public, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation had a new idea to observe Lei Day from the comfort of your home. Create a lei using whatever you can find around your house, it could be flowers, pieces of plastic, or any other material you can imagine and then display it outside your home as a way to honor the healthcare workers and other front line workers who are putting their lives at risk during this pandemic. The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is calling this new expression of the holiday Na Lei Koa Day, or Warrior Lei Day.