King Kamehameha Day

(Also known as Kamehameha Day)

King Kamehameha Day is observed next on Wednesday, June 11th, 2025 (364 days from today).

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King

King Kamehameha Day is a wonderful holiday to honor Kamehameha I, the Hawaiian king who was also known as Kamehameha the Great and the Napoleon of the Pacific.

King Kamehameha Day, a fairly large event in Hawaii, falls on June 11th and celebrates the achievements of "Kamehameha the Great". He is said to have unified the Hawaiian Islands in 1810. A highly revered leader, Kamehameha is honored annually with numerous celebrations throughout the islands. Downtown Honolulu holds one such celebration, where hundreds of hoops, at least 30 feet long, are placed on a 15-foot statue of the famous ruler. Other celebrations include parades, lots of floral arrangements and, of course, and the traditional Hawaiian hula.

History of King Kamehameha Day

Kamehameha the Great was a Hawaiian conqueror and king who founded the Kamehameha dynasty and unified the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom.

Kamehameha was born in Kohala, Hawaii in 1758. After Kalaniʻōpuʻu's death in 1782, Hawaii was divided under two ruling leaders - his son, Kīwalaʻō, and his grandson, Kamehameha.

The two fought for control of the entire island, with Kamehameha victory appearing. He also went on to occupy most of the surrounding territory. Kamehameha eventually succeeded in becoming the King of all Hawaiian Islands.

King Kamehameha I was born into the royal family of Hawaii. There were many prophetic signs that foretold his becoming a great king, including his being born around the time Comet Hailey shot across the Hawaiian night sky in 1758. This led to Kamehameha's death for many years in hiding, to protect him from opposers. The clans see him as a potential threat.

Finally, Kamehameha returned and began his training with King Kalaniʻōpuʻu'u, his uncle and later ruler of the Hawaiian Islands. Kamehameha's strength is such that he can lift the Naha Stone, which weighs 2.5 tons! This event fulfilled a prophecy that said that a great man who would unite the islands would be able to lift the stone. Kamehameha's uncle also introduced him to British explorer James Cook on his ship, the HMS Discovery. In 1779, Cook was killed in battle with Kamehameha.

After the death of King Kalaniʻōpuʻu'u in 1782, Kamehameha inherited the island's god of war, Kuka'ilimoku, while his uncle's stepson, Kīwalaʻō, was given control of the island. The two clash and confront each other in battle, in which Kamehameha wins and takes control of the island. He also took Keōpūolani, daughter of Kīwalaʻō, as his wife and later had several other wives.

After coming to power, Kamehameha made friends with foreign allies such as John Young and Isaac Davis. With their help, he decided to attack Maui in 1790. They were also his advisors for many years. Using these connections, Kamehameha traded sandalwood sought after in Hawaii in exchange for Western weapons. Armed with this superior firepower, he and his army were able to capture most of the islands. By 1810, King Kamehameha became the first leader to rule the entire Hawaiian archipelago.

Kamehameha remained in power until he died in 1819. In addition to conquering the islands, his reign was a progressive one for Hawaii. His governance practice followed the ancient rules and laws of kapu. He also instituted new laws such as the 'Kānāwai Māmalahoe', which protected travelers as well as those who were defenseless. A refined version of this principle also became part of the Hawaii state constitution in 1978.

Kamehameha's son Liholiho was next to the throne and took the name Kamehameha II. He died five years later and was succeeded by his brother Kauikeaouli, who ascended the throne as Kamehameha III.

Tradition of King Kamehameha Day

King Kamehameha is remembered with grand celebrations, colorful floats, floral decorations, and local marching bands in parades. The Kamehameha statue titled 'The Conqueror' and four other statues in Hawaii, Oahu, Maui and Washington D.C., are all decorated with wreaths. Ceremonial parades introducing Hawaiian culture are performed.

The laces are sewn by volunteers and members of royal associations. These floral decorations were handpicked by city workers in Honolulu, who were hoisted by a truck to carefully place the statues of King Kamehameha. The wreath was placed only on the outstretched arm of the king statue. The annual flower parade commemorating King Kamehameha takes place in Waikiki. It's a magnificent Hawaiian cultural showcase for everyone, and with its dazzling competition and colorful performances, it's a real feast for the eyes.

How to celebrate King Kamehameha Day

  • Try pronouncing his full name

Shout loudly "Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea"

  • Visit all six statues of King Kamehameha

Well, it's probably not possible to do all of this on the actual day. They are spread across the United States with four on the islands, one in Las Vegas and the sixth in Washington, DC. BUT, it can be fun to start planning trips to all those spots.

  • Create your own lei

It's June, the weather is nice (in most spots) and the flowers are in bloom. Why not honor King Kamehameha at home? It can be hard to knock out a 30-legged person in a day, but a pretty flower string can't hurt your mood.

Observed

King Kamehameha Day has been observed annually on June 11th.

Dates

Sunday, June 11th, 2023

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024

Wednesday, June 11th, 2025

Thursday, June 11th, 2026

Friday, June 11th, 2027

Founded by

Kamehameha V (Kamehama's grandson) on December 22nd, 1871

Also on Wednesday, June 11th, 2025

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