You don’t have to go to Hawaii to learn about the tradition of the lei. In fact, Hawaiian leis are regularly used in a variety of celebrations outside of Hawaii. Although leis made and given outside of Hawaii may not always carry the entirety of the original Hawaiian tradition, the warmth and beautiful meaning of the lei remains constant no matter where you are. To help you better understand this popular and ongoing tradition, here are some important facts surrounding the Hawaiian lei.
What Are Leis Traditionally Made Of?
When you think of leis, you probably think of Hawaii and beautiful flowers. Although leis are most often made with traditional fresh Hawaiian flower varieties, they can also be made out of other materials. A needle and some string are generally all you need to thread a lei, but some leis are more delicately hand crafted with knotting and careful braiding methods. Some of the most common types of leis are made using the following materials:
*Dried floral combinations
*Certain types of candy
The Hawaiian Tradition
In Hawaii, the tradition of the lei is quite important. In fact, many of the islands celebrate May 1st as an actual holiday called Lei Day. On this day, leis are exchanged throughout the islands while people engage in joyful celebrations of music and feasting. Many of the Hawaiian schools offer prizes for creatively designed and beautifully made leis.
To represent their unique characteristics and individuality, each of the Hawaiian Islands has an official lei. Here are some of the islands and their leis:
*Oahu – Lei ilima
*Molokai – Lei kukui
*Kauai – Lei mokihana
What Do Leis Represent When Given As A Gift?
Leis are often given as a gift to a special individual. Often times, this sincere gesture is a way to make a person feel especially welcome when they arrive in a new place. In addition to a symbol of welcome, leis also represent a sign of blessing or love for another individual. With these special meanings in mind, it makes sense that leis are frequently offered as gifts at wedding celebrations throughout the world. Leis that are made with more expensive or rare flower varieties are often used to represent an even greater honor.
You don’t have to be at a wedding to give someone a lei. Leis can also represent these affectionate meanings:
*Love and friendship
*Celebration of graduation or new birth
*Blessing of good health and safety
*Many messages of peace
How Are Leis Presented?
If you are presented with a lei, it is important to understand how to respond so that you can avoid creating offense. You may be tempted to wear a lei as you would a necklace, but it should actually be worn with equal spacing across the front and back. Let it hang down over your back as well as across your chest. If you are presented with many leis, wear them all together. If you receive many, you may have a difficult time seeing! Above all else, do not remove the lei while you are still with the person who gave it to you.
How To Join In The Tradition
There is no reason why you can’t start joining in this delightful tradition today. You can even make your own lei by ordering some fresh fall flowers. Find someone you want to honor, and make their day by giving them a lei. Give a Christmas lei by stringing Poinsetta flowers! They would also make great gifts for your guests at holiday parties!