The fun in the sun is about to begin! Bust out your grill, volleyball net, and sunscreen because it’s almost Memorial Day Weekend! This unofficial kickoff to summer is a perfect time to get together with friends and family to enjoy the outdoors. Amidst all the fun, let’s not forget what Memorial Day is truly about. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a time of remembrance to commemorate our fallen veterans for their bravery and service to our country.
The national holiday was established on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Today, Americans place flags on the grave sites of our members of the military to honor them for their courage and sacrifice.
In Hawaii, a special ceremony is held every year on Memorial Day on the South Shore of Oahu. The Lantern Floating Hawaiian Ceremony was started in 1999 by the Head Priest of Shinnyo-en. Her Holiness Shinso Ito officiates the ceremony each year as she welcomes thousands who gather to commemorate loved ones who have passed.
The ceremony incorporates many elements that are very sacred and important in the honoring of loved ones. The tradition culminates with the floating of the lanterns, which are placed onto the water with the wishes for peace and happiness. Not only does this ceremony honor those who have passed while serving their country, but it also honors endangered or extinct plant and animal life.
Each year, the ceremony has a different theme. This year the theme is “Many Rivers, One Ocean.” It is the hope of the Head Priest that although each person is unique and has a different background and perspective, we can unite in one heart and create harmony and friendship through the lantern floating ceremony.
Hawaiian culture is often based on the connection of the people and the land. The Lantern Floating Ceremony is a beautiful display of this connection and of the Hawaiian culture’s Memorial Day tradition.
For more information about the Lantern Floating Hawaiian Ceremony, click HERE!