In early 1928, writer and poet Don Blanding published an article in a local newspaper suggesting that a holiday be created centered around the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei. It was fellow writer Grace Tower Warren who came up with the idea of a holiday in conjunction with May Day on May 1. She also coined the phrase, "May Day is Lei Day."
The first Lei Day was held on May 1, 1928, and everyone in Honolulu was encouraged to wear lei. Festivities were held downtown with hula, music, and lei making demonstrations and exhibits. In 1929, Lei Day was made an official holiday in the territory. Although the tradition was interrupted during the years of World War II, Lei Day still continues today.