This holiday honors Kamehameha the Great, the king who first established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810.
King Kamehameha established Hawaii has a center of fur and sandalwood trade. Pineapples from Spain were planted, and coffee was brought in as a new crop as well.
It was King Kamehameha V (the great grandson of the guy being honored) who first declared the holiday. The celebration during the late1800s included carnivals, fairs, and races: foot races, horse races, and velocipede (early bicycle) races.
These days Kamehameha Day is celebrated with floral parades, complete with marching bands, floats, and pa'u horseback riders. These riders represent a royal court: a queen and eight princesses who represent the eight major islands of Hawaii and Molokini, plus ladies in waiting. The riders wear elegant 19th Century riding gowns and leis. There is a two-day hula competition, block parties, cultural exhibitions, and a lei draping ceremony on the Big Island (the island that is actually named Hawaii), on the statue of King Kamehameha.
Learn about Hawaii!
- This website has one section that explains how Hawaii was formed, as well as some Hawaiian legends about the islands' origins.