Every year on May 1st, we have May Day, which is Lei Day in Hawaii.
(There’s even a song we sing, helpfully titled “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.” )
Along with being about the giving and receiving of leis, Lei Day is a celebration of Hawaiian culture. A celebration which would be incomplete without Hawaiian music and hula. On Lei Day this takes the form, in most island schools, of hula pageants.
Being dancers, my daughter and I grew up loving and looking forward to participating in Lei Day pageants, starting in kindergarten and going all the way up through senior year in high school.
In elementary school, all the students participate. Each grade level learns and performs — either in the gym or out on the playing field — one hula, so you have a nice little program with several numbers. And there will be a “royal court,” made up of princesses (eight of them, representing each of the major islands) and a king and queen.
In middle school and high school, the royal court part stays the same, but the student dancers have to audition to be a part of the pageant. And it gets a little more elaborate, not to mention colorful, with more emphasis on costuming and decorations, and maybe a specific theme for the songs and dances that are included in the program.
Aside from it being just a lot of fun to wear all those fragrant flowers and get up and dance in front of a whole bunch of your family and friends, a Lei Day pageant is a great way to pass on the culture to the next generation. My kids are long since out of school, but come May 1st, you can bet I’ll be at the Lei Day program!
This is the ninth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.