National Lei Day is celebrated on November 11 every year. Lei is traditionally a gender-neutral name of Chinese origin that means ‘flower bud’ or ‘thunder.’ It is also a Hawaiian name that means ‘child’ or ‘string of flowers.’ Lei is also the romanization of the Chinese surname ‘雷’ which is the 69th name of the “Hundred Family Surnames” or “Bai Jia Xing,” a traditional Chinese composition. The name is also said to be modified from the name of Lei Zu, the principal wife of emperor Huang Di and the first woman to be designated as empress.
History of National Lei Day
In Hawaiian, Lei can be used as a proper name and as a short for other names, such as Kalei. In Chinese, it is considered an ancient name, dated before the Xia Dynasty which lasted from 2070 B.C to 1600 B.C.
Lei Zu or Leizu was a legendary Chinese empress and the wife of the Yellow Emperor. Her mythos is intertwined with the discovery of sericulture and the invention of the silk loom in the 27th century B.C. As per legend, the empress discovered silkworms while she was having afternoon tea, and a cocoon fell into her tea and subsequently unraveled. She soon convinced the emperor to give her a grove of mulberry trees where she would go on to domesticate silkworms. Leizu is credited with the invention of the first silk loom. She soon shared her discovery, and the information quickly spread across the land. She was given the title ‘Silkworm Mother.’
Lei Zu was known to have had two sons with the Yellow Emperor names Shaohao and Changyi. The latter went on to become the father of the legendary Chinese emperor Zhuanxu. In some legends, Shaohao and Changyi were bypassed, and Zhuanxu was made heir to the throne by the Yellow Emperor. Though the authenticity of the claims of her discovery and invention are not entirely verifiable, Leizu continues to be a popular object of worship in modern China.
National Lei Day timeline
Villages first begin to spring up along the Yellow River.
The earliest ever known name, Kushim, is recorded on a clay tablet.
Lei Zu becomes empress, discovers sericulture, and invents the silk loom.
Hawaii is first settled.
National Lei Day FAQs
Is Lei a first name?
It has been recorded both as a first and as a last name.
How do I pronounce Lei?
In Hawaiian, you pronounce it as leɪ, and in Chinese, léi.
Is Lei a good name?
Definitely! Lei has a nice meaning and is attached to very well accomplished people.
National Lei Day Activities
Appreciate a Lei
If you have a wonderful Lei in your life, go appreciate them. They will love getting some attention.
Look up the etymology of your name
Your name is bound to be interesting, so look up the origin of your own name. You may find something cool.
Read about Leizu
Read up about Leizu and her impressive life. You can use her legacy as an inspiration to do something new.
5 Interesting Facts About Hawaii
Surfing was invented in Hawaii.
Largest dormant volcano
Hawaii is home to the world’s largest dormant volcano, Mount Haleakala.
Hawaii has two official languages, English and Hawaiian.
Hello and goodbye
The Hawaiian word ‘aloha’ means both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’
Hawaii is rabies-free and very strict about its quarantine procedures to keep it that way.
Why We Love National Lei Day
It’s a fun history lesson
Names have a fascinating history. Learning about Lei is especially fun!
It reminds us of words long passed
Names like Lei can be seen as fossils. They are reminders of words long passed out of the popular lexicon and changing traditions.
It’s fun to appreciate people
We love appreciating people. We are definitely ready to show up for National Lei Day!
National Lei Day dates