The Merrie Monarch Festival takes place form April 12 to April 18 and I am going to be staying in a wonderful Big Island Vacation Rental very close to the event in Hilo.
Starting each year on Easter Sunday, the Merrie Monarch Festival hula competition is a prominent showcase of the living Hawaiian culture of mele and hula. The Festival premiered in 1964 as part of the Hilo Festival and then became an organized hula competition in 1971. Today the Merrie Monarch is the premier hula event in Hawaii, and also the largest hula event.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is named in honor of King David Kalakaua, who reigned from 1874 to 1891. He was known as the Merrie Monarch for his revival of hula and other Hawaiian traditions.
When King Kalakaua [David Laamea Kalakaua] held a coronation ceremony for himself in February of 1883 at Honolulu’s newly built Iolani Palace, Hawaiian men pounded on gourd drums and women performed hula while wearing traditional costumes.
King Kalakaua encouraged the traditional activities of the Hawaiian people. As a result he endured protests by the era’s prominent families, including many missionary families who continued to exert a strong influence on the behaviors of the day.
The missionaries were very much against traditional religious and cultural practices and beliefs such as hula). King Kalakaua was attacked in the newspapers for permitting these “pagan” activities.
The Merrie Monarch Festival was begun forty-six years ago by the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and since that time has been continued by the Merrie Monarch Festival community organization. Their goal is the preservation and perpetuation of the art of hula and also Hawaiian culture. The Merrie Monarch is considered the premier hula forum allowing Hawaiians to share their knowledge and skills of this ancient = art.
The Merrie Monarch Festival has helped in the overall renaissance of Hawaiian culture, and these arts are now being passed on from one generation of Hawaiians to the next generation. The festival is one week long and includes performances, art exhibits, demonstrations, and craft fairs. There is also a parade which emphasizes the cultures of the Hawaiian Islands. The three-day hula competition has received worldwide recognition for its historic as well as its cultural significance.
The Merrie Monarch Festival has helped many people learn about the Hawaiis history and culture, and has also helped to continue these important traditions. The Festival also reaches out to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate, including Hawaiian children.
In preparation for the festival, hula instructors in Hawaii and on the U.S. Mainland hold meetings to teach hula and also discuss the meanings of various chants and songs. They also work on making Hawaiian clothing and practice the Hawaiian language.
Students work to increase their knowledge of the Hawaiian culture of ancient times, and to understand how the hula tells stories of the world around them, including the ocean and mountains, and the birds and fish and all of nature.
The Merrie Monarch Festival brings together many cultural practitioners including hula masters as well as others interested in Hawaiian culture and history. The event benefits education for the Hawaiian people and continues to perpetuate the culture.
Ancient Hawaiians preserved their important cultural knowledge in the form of their hula dances. The Festival has strict standards in order to ensure cultural accuracy. You can learn more about hula and about this amazing festival by visiting the Hawaiian Encyclopedia.
I can’t wait for this year’s celebration, and I am going to be staying in a wonderful Hilo Vacation Rental right near the event.