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First Lei Day celebration
Don Blanding, writing the story in Hula Moons
, explained the origins of Lei Day:
Along in the latter part of 1927 I had an idea; not that that gave me a headache, but it seemed such a good one that I had to tell some one about it, so I told the editors of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the paper on which I worked. They agreed that it was a good idea and that we ought to present it to the public, which we proceeded to do. It took hold at once and resulted in something decidedly beautiful.
. . . The custom of weaving and wearing flower leis originated with the Hawaiians so long ago that they have no record of its beginning. . . . When tourists discovered Hawaii, they loved the charming gesture and they spread the word of it until the lei became known around the world.
. . . Hawai`i observed all of the mainland holidays as well as those of a number of the immigrant nationalities in the Islands. But there was no day that was peculiarly and completely Hawaii's own; that is none that included all of the polyglot population there.
So, the bright idea that I presented was, "Why not have a Lei Day?" Let everyone wear a lei and give a lei. Let it be a day of general rejoicing over the fact that one lived in a Paradise. Let it be a day for remembering old friends, renewing neglected contacts, with the slogan "Aloha," allowing that flexible word to mean friendliness on that day.
Lei Day became an official holiday in 1929. Lei Day celebrations continue today, marking May First with lei-making competitions, concerts, and the giving and receiving of lei among friends and family.Read more about the Lei
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