Friday, May 29, 2009

Hawaii Lantern Festival 10th Anniversary

Reflection on the original Memorial Day,as May 30th approaches, leads my thoughts to the recent Hawaiian Lantern Festival’s 10th Anniversary, May 25, 2009, that was also our current Memorial Day. Extensive videos of this year’s Festival can be viewed now at this KGMB link.

The 2009 Lantern Festival “Streaming Video” will be aired by television station KGMB 9 on May 30th, and again in early June.

Memorial Day commemoration for most of my life occurred on May 30th, but a few years ago the date was moved to the last Monday of the month in order to provide a long three day weekend. I’ve sometimes wondered if this change has resulted in many people gradually forgetting the true significance of this special day as they focus more on that day off work and social activities. I do respect the new date, and wrote a brief post here, but the 30th still automatically enters my mind as Memorial Day even though I know the legal date is past.

I recall as a small girl selling Buddy Poppies for the American Legion to raise funds for the Veterans. I was so proud the year I received the most contributions for I had an older loved one fighting in a foreign land during WWII at the time and this made me feel as though I was helping in some small way. My family member returned home safely from that war, but many did not. They join our ancestors who are remembered in the Hawaiian Lantern Festival that occurs on the new Memorial Day (25th this year) as I now commemorate the 30th date, too.

Another loved family member first acquainted me with the significance of the Hawaiian Lantern Festival in May 2007. Subsequently, I wrote a piece here including:

“The Hawaii Lantern Festival is in progress as I write this. I imagine the evening with darkness falling, the lanterns slowly floating out to sea honoring the spirit of those no longer living. On this particular evening, for our family, the names of loved ones, so recently with us in body and spirit, will be launched from the shoreline to ebb seaward.”

A 2007 Festival video was not available at that time but now is from YouTube:


  1. How well I remember Buddy Poppies. I think the custom died out when the poppies were associated with heroin.

    Tha lantern ceremony is very moving and beautiful. I had never heard of it. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Beautiful ceremony - wished I could see it in person...

  3. What a beautiful sight seeing all those lanterns floating on the water in the darkness. I had never seen that ceremony before. Thank you for the video Jo Ann...

  4. I remember the poppies too, and my father was a soldier in WW II though he did not see combat.

  5. Darlene: I recall just a few years ago the VFW sold the blood red buddy poppies here for fund raising, but haven't seen them in most recent years. I believe there was some sort of competition between the American Legion and VFW years earlier -- a Google search gives more specifics, but I didn't try to address all those issues.

    Pattie, Joy, Hattie & Darlene:
    I agree the sight of the lanterns in person must be quite moving, though I haven't seen it other than this video, either.

    I like the idea that the Festival's theme of "Many Rivers, One Ocean" is all about bringing the global community together. We remember all who are no longer living as well as military veterans. This ceremony is about peace, not issues of war, politics or religion.

  6. Thanks for the education, Joared. It must be a lovely rite. At my age, although I seem to recall having bought a Buddy poppy not long ago, it could have been in 1970!!!! No, really, I think it's been much more recently - within the last 5 years, at least.
    Cop Car

  7. How beautiful - I too remember Memorial Day = it was a special day when I was a child. We always decorated the graves. I remember selling buddy poppies with my Grandmother - my Grandfather returned from WWI and founded the American Legion Post in their small town - named after his childhood friend who died in France.

    All five of my mother's brothere served in WWII - all came home safely - yes, Memorial Day was a solemn occasion when I was a child. Thanks for the video = how breathtaking.