Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii!!!

Aloha No and Happy May Day!!!

"...May Day is Lei Day in Hawai`i
Garlands of flowers ev'rywhere,
All of the colors in the rainbow
Maidens with blossoms in their hair
Flowers that mean we should be happy,
Throwing aside a load of care,
Oh, May Day is Lei Day in Hawai`i
Lei Day is happy day out there."
~ Red Hawke, 1928

Remember the excitement and giddy anticipation leading up to May Day? The hours of dance practice, coaxing awkward hands and clumsy feet into graceful movements... preparing the costumes... gently picking flowers and stringing them into lei to express Aloha to loved ones, physically here and departed, kumu (teachers) and for the all-important May Day performance by each class...
Remember going to school decked out in lei, wearing brightly-colored mu`umu`u and Aloha shirts? Kids "oohing-and-ahhing" over each other's delectable lei of candy, packs of chewing gum and cracked seed, individually wrapped in colored cellophane tied together with curly ribbon… lei being pulled apart and treats being exchanged and consumed, spinning each kid out to lofty sugar highs... presenting lei to kumu with sticky hands and even stickier kisses, and soon the top of kumu's head was barely seen above the crush of lei...
Remember wriggling into dance costumes and the last-minute rehearsals and jitters? A bit of nail-biting, some hand-holding, and a whole lot of fidgeting... the entire community coming together for the May Day school pageant, lei contest, games and food... waving to all the smiling Aunties and Uncles, as you filed in with your class…
Remember that standing-room-only crowd, but there was no rudeness, no unruliness, no jostling, just smiles and kû ka paila (heaps of) Aloha Spirit... squeezing closer and tighter to fit one more Aunty's `elemu (buttocks), or gladly giving up a coveted seat for a tûtû (grandparent) or mama with bêbê (baby)… EVERY person donning their best Hawaiian finery: mu`umu`u or Aloha shirt, lauhala hats (plaited hats of the hala leaves) encircled with lei hulu (feather lei), Hawaiian bracelets, flowers, be it a single pua melia over the ear or a hugely elaborate floral arrangement in the hair, and lei, lei, lei... "garlands of flowers everywhere…"
Remember the intermingled a`ala (fragrances) of pua melia (plumeria), ginger blossoms, gardenia, maile? Ambrosia for the ihu (nose).
Remember the strumming of `ukulele and guitars and the falsetto singing revving up the bustling crowd… then, the (conch shell) blower came running down the aisle, pausing to trumpet the festivities to come... an instant hush would come over the crowd... and necks would crane to get the first peek of the May Day mô`î wahine (queen) and mô`î kâne (king) and their court... first, the princesses, resplendent in holokû (formal Hawaiian dresses) and knee-length lei of the islands they represent and the princes in their malo (loincloths) and `ahu (capes), carrying kâhili (standards) marched in...
Remember feeling the lump-in-the-throat pride -- and for our tûtû, the wistful nostalgia of times past-- when the beautiful May Day mô`î wahine and the handsome mô`î kâne, who, representing the dignity, beauty and goodness of our people and culture, stepped forward? A thousand admiring glances, the population of this Aunty's village in the 1950's, kept pace with every regal step taken down the aisle and up to their flower-bedecked thrones…

No comments: