May 1 (May Day!) not only marks the beginning of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, it’s also Lei Day, a Hawaiian holiday that dates from the late 1920s. Hawaii may be the youngest state in the nation, but it certainly has a rich history and cultural life. In celebration of Lei Day, here are ten things stamps can teach us about the 50th state.
Hawaii’s state bird is the Hawaiian goose. The state flower is the yellow hibiscus, selected in the 1980s. And, according to some estimates, more than 90 percent of Hawaii’s 20,000 native terrestrial species are found nowhere else on Earth. The diversity of the state’s rain forests is especially remarkable.
Hawaii is also home to the W. M. Keck Observatory, located on the summit of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano. And the 14th Coast Guard District Commander lives at Diamond Head Lighthouse, the last occupied light station in Hawaii.
Some people have traced the “casual Friday” custom observed in America’s mainland offices to Hawaii, where Aloha shirts were first worn to work on Friday.
Typical holiday wreathes in Hawaii are noted for their use of tropical foliage, like brilliant tulip anthuriums, hibiscus leaves, and varieties of orchids. Three orchid varieties—purple vandas, pink phalaenopsis, and yellow miniature cattleyas—enhance the wreath’s tropical style.