King Kamehameha Day in Hawai‘i Nei
Kamehameha Day is a state holiday in Hawai‘i celebrated annually on June 11th to honor King Kamehameha the Great (aka Pai‘ea aka Kamehameha 1) who unified the Hawaiian Islands in 1810.
What is The History Of Kamehameha Day
Kamehameha was destined to unite the Hawaiian Islands since birth by an ancient prophecy that spoke of a light in the sky with feathers like a bird which would be the sign that a great chief was born.
Historians believe that Pai‘ea was born in 1758 when Halleyʻs Comet passed over the Hawaiian Islands. Kamehameha grew to become a great warrior and leader who used Western technology to gain strategic advantages over his opponents on the battlefield.He is celebrated as a Mō‘ī (King) who ruled with compassion and intelligence, embracing foreigners and technology.
Pai‘eaʻs grandson, Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa), instituted the first Kamehameha Day with a royal decree on June 11, 1872. This first celebration included carnivals, fairs, and races—both by horse and foot. In 1959, when Hawai‘i became the 50th State of the U.S., Kamehameha Day was one of the first holidays to be adopted.
Celebrating Modern Day Kamehameha Day
In modern times, Kamehameha Day is celebrated with a state holiday that features parades, lei-draping ceremonies at the four Kamehameha statues, hula performances, free street parking, and a day off for many businesses. This year, Kamehameha Day falls on Aloha Friday, and with the pandemic still preventing large gatherings, festivities are being put on hold.
“The decision to cancel these major, statewide events was made with the health and safety of our island communities and kūpuna in mind. While we are hopeful that the worst of the COVID-19 health crisis will be behind us by June, we feel the prudent response at this time is to cancel the parades as the preparations and event draw large crowds to prepare and attend,” says Kainoa Daines, Chair of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission. “This allows all involved in our respective King Kamehameha Celebration festivities across the state to focus on matters important to health, welfare, and economy. We look forward to a return of in-person festivities commemorating and celebrating Kamehameha Pai`ea in 2022. The Commission will prepare for the 150th anniversary of the Kamehameha Day Holiday in 2022.”
While the customary festivities are being put on hold this year, we hope our Hawai‘i ‘ohana is finding new ways to honor and celebrate Kamehameha Day!