The leis of these gorgeous dancers may represent different islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Each of the eight major islands, including the four here, has its own traditional lei, represented by a specific color and plant or seashell. Red is the "Big Island" of Hawai'i, silver-grey is Kaho’olawe, yellow is O'ahu, and green is Moloka’i.

Photograph by Patrice Carlton, My Shot
  • On May 1, 1929, the Hawaiian Islands celebrated the first official Lei Day. Lei Day celebrates the Hawaiian culture and lifestyle, symbolized by the islands’ colorful floral necklaces, leis.
    Each of Hawaii’s eight major islands has its own traditional lei. The “Big Island” of Hawai’i’s lei is red, Maui’s is pink, O’ahu’s is yellow, Lana'i’s is orange, Moloka’i’s is green, Kaho’olawe’s is silver-grey, and Kaua’i’s is purple. Each of these is related to an indigenous flower. Ni’ihau is the only island whose symbol is not a flower or plant. The white color of Ni’ihau’s leis is associated with a seashell.
    Lei Day is often celebrated with art festivals and hula performances. Schools often mark the day with programs and the election of a “Lei Day” king and queen.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    associate Verb

    to connect.

    celebrate Verb

    to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.

    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    hula adjective, noun

    native Hawaiian dance, often accompanied by drumming or chanting.

    indigenous Adjective

    native to or characteristic of a specific place.

    lei Noun

    native Hawaiian necklace of flowers, shells, feathers, or leaves.

    lifestyle Noun

    way of living, including cultural, economic, and social habits.

    performance Noun

    entertaining act or presentation by a person or group of people.

    specific Adjective

    exact or precise.

    symbolize Verb

    to represent an object, idea, organization, or geographical region.

    tradition Noun

    beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.