From Our Files: May Day Is Lei Day in 1958

We flipped back 65 years to see what the city was buzzing about in May 1958.

Keiki Lei May Day


“May Day Is Lei Day”

Although the history of the lei itself dates back to Polynesian voyagers, Paradise explains the origin of “Lei Day,” which was first celebrated in 1928. “Hawaii’s well-loved poet [Don Blanding] suggested the idea of a day to honor the lei, and it is kama‘āina writer Grace Tower Warren who suggested May 1 as the appropriate date.” The festival—nearing its 100th anniversary—is still held every year at Kapi‘olani Park, a reminder of Hawai‘i’s rich cultural heritage.


FAST FACT: The battle of Nu‘uanu was fought in May 1795.


Symbols of Hawai‘i

Fof 1958 CoverThe May ’58 cover features hula dancers wearing ti leaf skirts and colorful lei, an image that many people still picture when thinking of Hawai‘i. A three-page feature inside on Lei Day explains the significance of the lei to Hawai‘i. “A lei is a likeness or portrait of the character of Hawaii … a lei is the symbol of the natural beauty and song, the friendliness and love in Hawaii.” Today, the lei continues to embody the spirit of aloha.




Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at