Whenever there is an event in the Kapalua Resort, I immediately run to my blog to let my friends and readers know about it. This Friday, May 1st, the Kapalua Resort will celebrate May Day.
While people around the world celebrate the beginning of Spring, May Day is truly a special day in Hawaii. Growing up here, dancing the hula was a pivotal part of my childhood, and on May Day, our elementary school would throw the most wonderful celebrations, with dancing, lei making contests, and mu'umu'u contests. It was a special occasion, and each year, my mother would take me to Ka'ahumanu Shopping Center to find the dress, and we would stay up the night before making flower lei to give to friends the next day.
While I have personal recollections of May Day from childhood, I realized that I didn't know anything about the historical significance of the holiday. I was surprised to find out that May Day was proposed by a local poet, Don Blanding, and a fellow writer, Grace Tower in the late 1920's. In an article for the Star Bulletin, it was suggested that a holiday be created centering around the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei. The first of May was proposed, and the holiday festivities were held in downtown Honolulu in 1928 (some sources say in 1927). The celebrations were a great success, and in 1929, Lei Day was made an official holiday in the territory of Hawaii and a tradition began.
The lei holds significance for the people of Hawaii, as early settlers brought the custom of weaving garlands of fragrant flowers, leaves, shells, nuts, and other materials. With the advent of tourism, it became a symbol of Aloha, both welcoming visitors and wishing them as they depart.
Did you know?
- You should always accept a lei. The maker of a lei takes great care in gathering of the materials to make the lei, and it thought that their a part of their spirit is captured in the weaving of the lei.
- It is considered bad form to refuse a lei, to remove it from your neck in the presence of the giver, or to ask someone for their lei.
- Lei are given to mark a variety of special occasions, and can carry great symbolic weight. Meaning is attached to the materials used and to the occasion. Lei worn by dancers were not given away as they'd been dedicated to the Golds. Some lei are associated with weddings, others with funerals, and still others with luck (good or bad).
- When giving a lei to a pregnant women, it should be left open, not tied.
- Never casually throw out a lei-it should be returned to the place it was gathered, or buried or hung in a tree. In the 1800's those departing the islands by ship would throw their lei overboard, as a symbol of their eventual return to the islands.
- A child is considered a lei, as a child is an intertwining of the parents.
- The presenting of a lei with a kiss was never a traditional Hawaiian custom. It was customary to present the lei wrapped or to hand it to the recipient just above the heart. It's rumored to have begun at a USO dance, when a girl was dared by her friends to kiss a soldier. She gave him a lei, saying it was customary to give a kiss with it, and a new custom was born.
So you can see that the lei has a signficance beyond just giving and receiving-symbolizing aloha, family, friendship, love, children, and so much more.
I hope you will join the Kapalua Resort family for its annual May Day Celebration in the Honolua Village. Residents, visitors, employees, and students all join in celebration of the Festival of Flowers. Participate in Lei Making, enjoy hula and music performances, sample ice cream from Roselani Tropics, and view the vintage Aloha Shirt, Mu'umu'u and Holoku exhibits.
Friday, May 1, 2009, Schedule:
10:00 am: Opening Ceremony and Welcome.
Music by Wilmont Kahaiali'i Productions, Mele (song) by Kapalua Preschool Students, Hula by Kapalua Reservations and Sales ‘Ohana, as well as by Kaho'iwai Belsom and Pualani Pang
11:30 am: Presentation of Maui Preparatory Academy's May Day Court.
Music by Sam Ahia and Friends, Hula by Mapuana Snedicor. Announcement of Lei Contest Winners and Prizes. Hula by the Kapalua Resort Community ‘Ohana.
2:00 pm: Closing Song, "May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii"