King Kamehameha Day Celebration

Hawai’i Honors Kamehameha The Great June 11th

Kamehameha Day was established by royal decree on December 22, 1871 by King Kamehameha V as a national holiday. Kamehameha Day was created to honor the memory of Kamehameha, who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 and becoming Hawaii’s first king.

The first observance of the holiday happened the following year on June 11, 1872. Grand and festive celebrations occurred on each island. Festivities consisted of carnivals and fairs, to include foot, horse, bike, and canoe races.

Following the illegal overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani and the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1893, Kamehameha Day continued to be recognized as a holiday, but the celebratory aspect of it ceased. Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole restored the Royal Order of Kamehameha The Great in 1903. The Royal Order reestablished celebrations of Kamehameha Day on June 11, 1904. The restored celebrations respect and honor the cultural traditions that King Kamehameha defended as his society was slowly shifting towards Western/European trends.

Today, Kamehameha Day celebrations are elaborate as festivities take place throughout the islands; Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, & Kauai. Hawaii is treated to floral parades, Pa‘u Parades (skirt worn by women horseback riders) Ho’olaule’a, hula & cultural demonstrations, Hawaiiana & arts and craft carnivals & fairs. The most important ritual commemorating Kamehameha Day is the Draping Ceremony. The statues of King Kamehameha The Great are adorned with long beautiful foliage and flower leis.

Officially Sanctioned and Recognized:

  • Ali’iolani Hale, Honolulu, Oahu
  • Hilo’s Bay Front – Kamehameha’s beloved home
  • Kapa’au (Kohala), Kamehameha’s birth place (original)
  • Washington D.C. Statuary Hall, US Capitol Visitor Center