Via Wikimedia Creative Commons by Joseph Feher
Saturday, May 1st marks Lei Day in Hawaii. A lei is a garland or wreath. Lei can be constructed out of flowers, seashells, leaves and more. Lei Day first received recognition in 1929. It is a nonpartisan and nonpolitical celebration where individuals can gift one another with leis. Its purpose is to engage in random acts of kindness and sharing, according to the Lei Day organization.
The idea for Lei Day was first proposed by Don Blanding. Blanding suggested the holiday in his column in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on February 13, 1928.
Blanding, also known as the “Poet Laureate of Hawai’i,” wrote, ‘“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.‘
Princess Helen Kawananākoa is reported to have told Blanding, “Indeed, I do approve of the idea. I think it is a beautiful thought and you may count on me for anything you want to help it along. And I know that you will have the loyal support of all the Hawaiians on Oʻahu.”
In recent times, Hawaii businesses continue to face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “With the lack of air travel coming into Hawaii, it makes it very difficult to bring in products, our products can’t sit on a boat, they’re perishable,” Carlos Campos, owner of the Hawaiian Lei Company told KHON2.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local supply has also been affected. Some farms have been closing down or growing less flowers. “Before, we only deal with one vendor, now we deal with multiple vendors, so we’re able to bring in more lei to be ready for lei day,” said Tina Nguyen, owner of Tina’s Lei Shop. It is recommended those searching for leis to place orders beforehand. It has also been recommended that consumers be more flexible due to limitations of supply.
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