Have you ever wondered how the state of Hawai'i, its residents, and island visitors celebrate holidays?
I know when I was a kid (being naïve), I thought everyone celebrated Christmas the same way: Santa came down the chimney (if you had one), and if not, he mysteriously found a way. Well, since our next national holiday is at the end of this month, it got me wondering how Hawaiians celebrated Memorial Day. Were there misconceptions? Was it lackluster and underappreciated? Or, perhaps, was it just as magical as everything there appears to be?
Full of picnics and family fun on the beach, this 3-day holiday weekend is typically considered the unofficial start to summer. And while it’s a great time to soak up some rays and let loose, it’s also important to remember the servicemen and women of the US armed forces.
(Side note: While vacationing in Waikiki, I went to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. That was beyond all my thoughts from just seeing pictures. This building was immaculately white. And with the strong sunshine, the building looked almost ethereal.)
Luckily, Hawai’i offers a plethora of opportunities to share in honoring those who chose to serve our country. My favorite? The ceremony on Ala Moana Beach.
Honolulu has its annual Memorial Day Lantern Floating Ceremony on Ala Moana Beach. The residents place flowers, gifts, and offerings on the gravesites of loved ones who served, as well as loved ones who passed. During the Lantern Ceremony, approximately 50,000 people come together on Memorial Day Evening (this year it’s May 30, 2022) and pay homage to their loved ones by placing a lit lantern into the ocean. This event symbolizes both courage and hope for the living.
The Hawaiian conch shell (known as pu in the Polynesian tongue) bellows out at the beginning of this great night and blesses everyone. A traditional Japanese taiko performance mixes several different drums and is then offered as a prayer for peace. (We all need that, right?) These drums are followed by a Hawaiian chant (referred to as oli), in order to grab the attention of the crowd.
--If I confused you by mentioning Japanese and Hawaiian activities, allow me to explain: you can expect to see a mix of Hawaiian and Japanese traditions in this celebration. Why? Well… since there is a large population of Japanese-Americans, this ceremonious festivity entertains with Polynesian chants, and dances with Japanese culture, on this jovial night. It’s a perfect blend of cultural respect, honor, and, aloha!--
Not long after the drums and chants steal your attention, the attendees are treated to a traditional hula performance (which is always breathtaking- so make sure to see one if you ever have the chance). The formal section of this grand event brings the community leaders together to light a central lantern known as the "light of harmony". This signifies the unity of commitment and harmony amid the diversity. After this lighting, blessings are offered by Her Holiness Shinso Ito (Head Priest of Shinnyo-en; a school of esoteric Buddhism). Flowers are then scattered and a traditional Buddhist chant is performed. Lastly, a loud bell is rung, signifying to everyone that it is the time when they can finally release their lanterns.
I don’t know about you, but this absolutely sounds like a "must-see" for us on the mainland. What do you think? Have you ever been? Let us know!
In the meantime, please enjoy a FREE Mahalo Cay product on us, when you order $50 or more! (Plus free shipping!)
We hope everyone has a safe and jubilant Memorial Day!