Lei Day - May first - was the brainchild of Don Blanding. In 1927 he came up with the idea of a uniquely Hawaiian holiday that everyone could celebrate. His editors at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin presented it to the public and the idea was enthusiastically embraced.
Lei Day became an official holiday in 1929. During those first years the event included the selection of a Lei Day queen and court. Lei Day celebrations continue today, marking the first day of May with lei-making competitions, concerts, and the giving and receiving of lei among friends and family.
Lei day in the state of Hawai'i has a very rich and colorful history. Each island in Hawai'i has a special flower that represents that specific island. The island of Maui's flower is called the Lokelani and is pink. The island of O'ahu's flower is called the Ilima. The Ilima's color is golden and can be seen all across the island. Moloka'i uses a flower named the Kukui which has a green color to it. A smaller island named Lana'i has a grassy flower called Kauna'o which is a yellow color. The island of Kaho'olawe and its flower Hinahina has a silver-gray color across the top. The final two islands have very unique sets of flowers. Kaua'i has plentiful mokihana flowers of a beautiful green color. The island of Ni'ihau's "flower" is actually a shell called Pupu.
Lei Day is a celebration of Hawaiian culture, or the aloha spirit. People commonly celebrate by giving gifts of leis to one another. Schools also put on plays and elect a Lei Day court of Kings and Queens to represent the different islands. Each island has its own symbol that is composed of a color and a flower. Maui is pink, O'ahu is yellow, Moloka'i is green, Lana'i is orange, Kaho'olawe is gray, Kaua'i is purple, and Ni'ihau is white. In the same order the flowers are lokelani, 'ilima, kukui, kauna'oa, hinahina, mokihana, and a pupu shell. Ni'ihau is the only island without a plant as its symbol.