May Day is a Holiday created to honor the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing leis. In 1928, a writer, Gracie Tower Warren, proposed the idea be a holiday on May 1st, in conjunction with May Day.
On May 1, 1928, The first Lei Day was held and Honolulu residents and visitors were encouraged to wear leis. Events were held in Honolulu with music, hula, lei making and contests.
In 1929, Lei Day was made an official holiday, and continues today. On Oahu, Lei Day events are featured in Queen Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.
Many celebrations are also held at local schools through out the islands. Elementary schools hold celebrations crowning Lei Day kings, queens and princesses of each island, such as occurred in 2008 at Heeia Elementary School. Dances are performed by students and the appointed royal family. Students vote for the May Day court participants.
Each of the major Hawaiian Islands has a flower that represents its uniqueness.
Hawaii - Lehua. It's blossoms come from the ohia lehua tree which grow on the Big Island's slopes of the volcano. It is commonly red and is sacred to the Volcano Goddess, Pele.
Kauai - Mokihana. It is a purple berry found only on Kauai. It is a fruit that is strung as beads to make a lei.
Kahoolawe - Hinahina. It is a gray plant found on the Kahoolawe beaches and they are braided to make leis.
Lanai - Kaunaoa. It is a light orange vine that is twisted together to make a lei.
Maui - Lokelani. Means "rose of heaven" and is the color pink with a sweet smell.
Molokai - Kukui. Green or brown nuts from the Kukui tree that are strung with ribbon to create leis.
Niihau - Pupu. White shells found on the shoreline and are strung together to form a lei.
Oahu - Ilima. It is a yellow/orange flower that is strung to create a lei. The high chiefs were once the only ones allowed to wear these leis.
If you happen to be in Hawaii on May Day, feel free to join in the celebration and give some you admire a lei. It is a custom that expresses how much you care for someone.