The Hawaiian Lei

When you think Hawaii, visions of beautiful flower leis come to mind. Visitors to Hawaii are greeted with flower leis upon their arrival, making for a very warm welcome. This tradition was said to be started during the early 1800's, when lei vendors welcomed visitors to the islands and their locals back home.

Visitors leaving the island would throw their leis back into the sea as they left, hoping that like the lei, they would return to the islands again.Leis are used for many occasions, even though no special occasion is necessary. Hawaiian leis can be given to mark an important event such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and even funerals.The lei custom was brought to the Hawaiian Islands by early Polynesian voyagers.

The leis were made of flowers, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers and leaves. One of the popular leis is the Maile leaf lei, which is sweetly perfumed and has many variations of leaves. The lei Maile was associated with the worship of the gods of hula. The lei most visitors to the islands have seen is the Plumeria Lei. Plumeria trees flourish on the islands and come in a variety of colors, their flowers peaking between the months of March and November. One of the most exotic leis is the Okika, or Orchid Lei.

They are lightly scented and come in a variety of colors too, the most familiar being the purple flower. Orchids are usually available year round.There are some things you should know when receiving a lei and when giving a lei for the first time. Always accept a lei, as it is in very poor taste to refuse. The correct way to wear a lei is gently draped over the shoulders, hanging down both in the front and in the back. It is considered rude to remove a lei from your neck in the presence of the person who gave it to you, so do it elsewhere! When you receive more than one lei on occasion, it is acceptable to let them overlap each other.

When giving the lei, drape it carefully over the person's shoulders so that it hangs evenly in front and back, give a kiss on one or both cheeks, and wish them well.

.Lisa T.

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By: Lisa T

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