Life at Punahou

May Day and Holoku

The annual May Day and Holokū programs are one of the School’s most popular spring traditions, offering students from K – 12 the opportunity to learn and perform mele, oli and hula.

A component of Hawaiian studies, all students from kindergarten through grade 5 participate in the May Day program; participation is optional for Middle School and Academy students.


The first May Day in Hawai'i was held on May 1, 1928, originating from writer/poet Don Blanding, who suggested that a holiday be created around the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei. May Day at Punahou was originally celebrated with a spring festival, gala and a procession round the Lily Pond.

Today, Junior School students and faculty plan and execute three indoor May Day performances from grades K – 2, 3 – 5 and 6 – 8.

The 1960s marked the beginning of the annual Holokū Pageant. Hundreds of Academy students volunteer to pay tribute to the history of the Hawaiian Islands through an exciting sequence of ancient and modern hula and chants during two evening Holokū performances. Student directors, representing each grade level, choreograph the hula and teach their peers.

Behind the Scenes of Holoku Pageant

This series explores the preparation and collaborative effort that makes Holokū possible each year. It describes some of the cultural significance of Holokū, and the impact it has on today's Punahou community.

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