With spring in full swing and a multitude of bright colours starting to bloom in the hedgerows we love to celebrate the abundance of flowers on show. Many cultures around the world celebrate the beauty of flowers but Hawaii had dedicated the 1st May as ‘Lei Day’. A lei is a garland of flowers worn around the neck in Polynesian cultures. Exotic and fragrant these delightful garlands are given to someone for a variety of reasons, symbolising peace, love, honour, or friendship for another person.
Among residents of Hawaii, the most popular occasions at which lei can be found are birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, retirement parties, and bridal showers. It is not uncommon for a high school or college graduate to be seen wearing so many lei that they reach their ears!
On May 1st each year, Hawaiians celebrate “Lei Day”, first conceived in 1927 by poet Don Blanding. At the time, Blanding was employed by the Honolulu Star Bulletin, and he shared his idea with columnist Grace Tower Warren, who came up with the phrase, “May Day is Lei Day”.