[fusebox_full_player featured_episode=”60″ social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_linkedin=”true” social_email=”true” ]

On this episode of Hawaii’s Best, Bryan talks with good friend of the pod and (unofficial) Cultural Practitioner for Hawaii’s Best, Kahanuola Solatorio about the importance of Lei Day in Hawaii. We even hear about his band Keauhou, which plays at the holiday every year, and who you can watch remotely this year!

Lei Day happens on the 1st of May every year, lasting until the next day. It has existed as a holiday since the late 1920s when American Poet Don Blanding wrote a newspaper article stating that the production and wearing of leis is culturally significant and needs a holiday dedicated to it.

The act of gifting a lei from the flowers you pick is definitely very Hawaiian, but Kahanuola shares that many Polynesian cultures also have their own versions of the lei as well. A lei is meant to be given with positive intentions and good thoughts for that person as you make it, and there are actually different types of leis that use other materials beyond just flowers. There are different twists, techniques, and meanings.

Depending on the occasion, a lei can be given as a greeting, a goodbye, a thank-you, or an expression of love. Each island of Hawaii has its own flower that represents that island, so you’ll see a different color scheme and emphasis in the craft of the leis depending on where you are.

Many of the schools on the islands also elect Lei Day court kings and queens from their student bodies every year to represent their island. There is always live music and good food in many cities around Hawaii on this day, and numerous locations hold lei competitions, hula competitions, and parties to celebrate.

The tradition of a live concert on Lei Day was first established by the well-known Hawaiian musical act, The Brothers Cazimero. Years after, they passed the honor to Keauhou, the band Kanhanuola plays in, who has been playing at the event for the past three years.

You can participate virtually in the festivities this year as well, by checking out the online event at 7 pm (Hawaiian time) on Facebook live at Facebook.com/HawaiiNewsNow – don’t forget to wear a lei, and give one to someone you love!

Episode Resources

Travel Pono (responsibly)

Connect With Us

Bumper music, Aloha Friday, provided by Coby G (used with permission)

Spread Aloha

  • Leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings and reviews help other people who love Hawaii find this podcast.
  • Subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Google

apple podcasts badge

Listen on Spotify black



Bryan Murphy
Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.