Everything You Need to Know About Hawaiian Leis


Aloha and welcome to the enchanting world of Hawaiian leis. These iconic garlands, entwined with the spirit of Aloha, embody a rich cultural tradition that’s as vibrant as the islands themselves. Hawaiian Leis is basically the flower necklace seen in movies when you arrive to Hawaii. Most of us have seen this but don’t understand where it comes from. Today we will talk bout this Hawaiian Cultural Tradition.


The Tradition of the Lei

The lei holds a special place in the heart of Hawaiian culture. Traditionally made from an array of materials—flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even bone and teeth of various animals—these beautiful garlands were initially worn by Hawaiian royalty, signifying their elevated status and wealth.


Over time, the lei has evolved to become a symbol of hospitality, respect, love, and friendship. Whether it’s a wedding, a graduation, a birthday celebration, or your first step off the plane in Hawaii, leis are often presented as a special gesture to mark significant moments and milestones.


The Art of Lei Making

Crafting a lei is an art form that requires patience, skill, and an eye for beauty. Each lei is meticulously handcrafted, with every single element—from fragrant plumeria flowers to vibrant orchid petals, shiny kukui nuts, or iridescent shells—carefully strung together to create a garland that’s not only visually stunning but also deeply symbolic.


Lei Etiquette

When you’re presented with a lei, it’s customary to accept it with a smile and a gentle kiss on the cheek. It’s considered disrespectful to remove it immediately or in the presence of the person who gave it to you. Instead, wear it proudly and graciously. Remember, every lei is a token of aloha—love, peace, and compassion.


The Significance of Leis in Hawaii

In Hawaii, leis are more than just ornamental garlands; they’re woven into the fabric of everyday life, reflecting the Aloha spirit that pervades the islands. They’re a symbol of the history, culture, and warm hospitality that make Hawaii truly unique.


Where to buy Hawaiian Leis without visiting Hawaii

You can buy Hawaiian Leis online using websites like Etsy and more. You can buy everything to make your own or you can have one created for you. There are lots of different styles to choose from. 


Different types of Leis Hawaii

  1. Pikake Lei: This lei is made from the fragrant white blossoms of the Pikake flower, offering a delicate and elegant appearance.

  2. Purple Orchid Lei: Known for its vibrant color and longevity, this type of lei is a popular choice for many occasions.

  3. Tuberose and Ti Leaf Lei: A unique combination of the highly fragrant Tuberose flowers and the vibrant green Ti leaves.

  4. Pua Kenikeni Lei: Admired for its intoxicating aroma and star-shaped flowers, this lei is often used in traditional Hawaiian ceremonies.

  5. Maile Lei: This lei, made from the vine of the Maile plant, is often associated with good luck and protection, and is commonly used in weddings and graduations.

  6. White Ginger Lei: Made with the sweetly scented white ginger flower, this lei is a favorite for its delicate fragrance and beauty.

  7. Heʻe Berry and Sea Shell Lei: This lei combines purple Heʻe berries and seashells, creating a unique and visually striking piece.

  8. Plumeria Lei: Known for its intensely fragrant and vibrant yellow blossoms, this is one of the most recognized Hawaiian leis.

  9. Kukui Nut Lei: This lei is made from the polished nuts of the Kukui tree, offering a more permanent and long-lasting memento.

  10. Cigar Flower Lei: This lei features the bright red flowers of the cigar plant, providing a bold splash of color.

Each of these Hawaiian leis has its own unique beauty and cultural significance, adding a special touch to any occasion.


Pregnant Women should not wear Hawaiian Leis

The Hawaiian lei is a symbol of love, friendship, celebration, and respect. Traditionally, there are very few restrictions on who should not wear a lei. However, it’s important to consider the cultural significance and traditions associated with leis. For instance, in traditional Hawaiian culture, pregnant women are advised not to wear closed leis, like the typical floral lei, as they are thought to represent an umbilical cord that could potentially harm the unborn child. It’s always recommended that individuals understand and respect the cultural practices and beliefs associated with the Hawaiian lei when choosing to wear one.


When and How to remove your Hawaiian Leis

Removing a Hawaiian lei should be done with the same level of respect and care that was given when it was received. It’s important to remember that leis are a symbol of aloha, love and respect. They are often given to honor someone on a special occasion or to welcome guests. Therefore, it is considered disrespectful to casually remove a lei in front of the person who gave it to you. If you must remove your lei for any reason, do so discreetly and not in the presence of the giver. Traditionally, a lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should be returned to the earth, ideally where the flowers or leaves were gathered. If that’s not possible, a lei can be hung to dry, used as a decoration, or placed somewhere meaningful.


Whether you’re visiting the islands, attending a Hawaiian-themed event, or simply curious about this fascinating tradition, understanding the significance of the lei can deepen your appreciation for Hawaiian culture. So, the next time you’re presented with a lei, remember that you’re not just receiving a beautiful garland, but a heartfelt expression of Aloha. For More Travel Tips and Resources make sure you check out the Blog.