Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lei Day, 2017

Happy May Day to you!

White-flowered shrub with dark purple leaves was next to a lime green hedge at the Marriott – very striking!
From Wikipedia: “Lei Day is a statewide celebration in all of Hawaii. The celebration begins in the morning of May first every year and continues throughout the entire day and even continues onto the next day. Lei day was established as a holiday in the year of 1929 and continues to this day. Each Hawaiian island has a different type of lei that is used for the celebration and for its people to wear.”

Photo credit: http://www.okclipart.com/Maile-Lei-Clip-Art30susccuzj/

That’s pretty accurate. I think the lei for Kauai is maile, which is a sweet-smelling vine that grows in the forest. We get it on special occasions, like our wedding or to honor a special teacher. Schools typically have May Day celebrations with hula and song. The private school I used to work for would prepare for about 3 months in advance and each grade performed a hula or song in full costume.

On Kauai, Lei Day is put on by the Kauai Museum and is a lei-making competition. It’s been more or less fun over the years. Last year was kind of bogus because they put the lei on silent auction and folks were taking them as they won, so many were missing by the time we got there. This year the leis could not be taken until 4 p.m.

This year the museum courtyard is under construction, so they held it over at the Marriott. WOW! So much better all around. The Marriott has wide open spaces, great organization, a fabulous garden, and welcoming staff. They also have an outstanding collection of oriental art and sculpture.

  We used to hold final class dinners at the Princeville Hotel in its baroque days and one of the German ladies got sniffy about how decadent and bourgeois it was. (And it definitely was! but it was pretty funny because we were all lapping it up.) The Marriott is completely decadent and bourgeois and I truly enjoy going there.

In general, the judges tend to favor these fluffy multi-flower lei. 

My friend Jennifer Pomroy is the granddaughter of Irmalee Pomroy, a noted floral designer and lei maker here on Kauai (now passed). Her son Ka’ohu won an award for this distinctively different lei. He is 15 now. This hala seed lei is rarely seen or worn – usually associated with funerals, but occasionally used as an adornment for hula.

  Hat lei are a special category of their own.

Ti leaf lei – the one at the top is a very old type – instead of narrow pieces of leaf woven or tied together, it had larger end pieces of the leaves, bound on raffia. I was very taken with that one.

White. The pikake buds in the bottom lei were smaller than my little fingernail and it was a solid round cord lei. They smelled divine.

These lehua buds were even smaller than the pikake buds, and it was made up of multiple strands. These are sewn with a needle.

I was really taken with this one, because it was so different from the others. Made from the calyx (calyxes?) of gardenias, very fluffy.


Many people got dressed up and were wearing flowers. These ladies and their lei were so pretty, I asked them if I could take their picture. The lei were all made by Sandy Takaezu, the lady on the left. They are blue jade flowers from her property in the Wailua Homesteads. The part that looks like a purple-blue bead is the calyx of the individual flower. These are needle sewn.

She was the most gracious lady. I made her laugh because I kept checking behind me to make sure I wasn’t bumping into anyone when I was taking the picture. I learned from the Dragon Dance!

On the way out, we saw these doves, nene geese, and a swan (or a duck? not sure) feeding by one of the ponds with koi. They were not at all afraid of us, we walked right up to them. The doves were flicking seeds out to the koi.

I’m not sure if this was a swan or a duck. It came right up out of the water to eat these greens. I was imagining that part of the chef’s duties: “cut greens for water birds.” The nene geese are the endangered state bird of Hawaii. These were truly tame. Usually they hiss if you get too close to them.

Ah, the Marriott, built on a truly grand scale. The columns are about 4 feet in diameter and 2 stories tall.

Matt always sneaks in a picture or two of me. I was neither dressed up nor wearing flowers, but at least I was clean. This is a characteristic pose of mine, with my handbag safely tucked under my arm. The oriental painting in the background is at least 10 feet tall, stunning.

I didn’t take any of him, but here’s one from a while ago, when he said to me, “Look honey, it’s the Bead Hut.” This is where we had lunch afterward. It’s one of our favorite local places, really good burgers and very consistent over the years.


  1. Hi Peggy! My name is Jan. I am visiting your blog from Nicole's blog. Your art is gorgeous and I love your Healing Dolls!!!

    I have become a follower because I feel drawn to your beautiful art and your lovely soul.

    This post was magnificent!!!

    Best wishes, Jan

    1. Thank you so much, Jan! You made my day!