Kamehameha Day

Observed on the 11th of June annually, Kamehameha Day is a holiday that honors King Kamehameha the Great—a king who unified the Kingdom of Hawai’i. This holiday has been observed since the 19th century and is still celebrated with a fair amount of fervor. All over Hawaii, celebrations are held, including draping 30+ foot leis over the statue of King Kamehameha I, parades, traditional dancing, and other colorful celebrations.

The History of Kamehameha Day

This holiday was first proclaimed by Kamehameha V on December 22, 1871, to honor his grandfather Kamehameha I. King Kamehameha I established the unified Kingdom of Hawai’i, which brought together the islands of Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi, Maui, Niʻihau, Molokaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, and Oʻahu.

The first observation of the holiday occurred the following year and was celebrated with horse and foot races, fairs, and carnivals. In 1883, a statue of King Kamehameha was dedicated in Honolulu, and it became a central point of the ceremony since the turn of the 20th century. When Hawaii became a U.S. state, this holiday was the first one proclaimed.

Facts About Hawaii

Now that we’ve talked about Kamehameha Day, we thought it would be appropriate to talk about some of the facts we’ve learned about Hawaii. Hawaii is an interesting U.S. state and one that’s worth taking a close look at.

  • Hawaii is made up of 132 islands, and 124 reefs, shoals, and islets.
  • The main Hawaiian islands are Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Big Island, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kaho’olawe.
  • Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state on August 20, 1959.
  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state made up of islands and one of the smallest U.S. states.
  • Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the U.S.
  • Iolani Palace was built by King David Kalakaua in 1882.
  • Mauna Kea is over 33,496 feet tall from the ocean floor to its highest peak.
  • Hawaii only produces 2% of the world’s pineapple.
  • The Big Island of Hawaii grows about 42 acres every year because of the activity of the Kilauea Volcano.
  • The island of Molokai has a population of just over 7,400 people.
  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee commercially.
  • Ten of the world’s fourteen climate zones can be found on the Big Island.
  • Hawaii is one of the few U.S. states that have made gambling illegal. Utah is the other one.
  • About 70% of Hawaii’s native birds have gone extinct.
  • Billboards are outlawed in Hawaii.
  • Hula dances were originally only performed by men.
  • Hawaii has its own time zone—Hawaiian Standard Time.

Observing Kamehameha Day

The main ritual of this holiday is the draping of the Kamehameha Statue in front of Ali’iolani Hale in downtown Honolulu. Large leis, some over 30 feet high, are draped in long strands over the statues. The same ritual is done at the Kamehameha Statue located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Another tradition is a Pa’u Parade and a Ho‘olaule‘a that features a traditional feast, music, hula dancing, vendors, and games.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (State holiday) - Hawaii
When is it?
This year (2024)
June 11 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
June 11 Wednesday
Last year (2023)