Lei Making

In Hawai'i a cultural practice which most people have heard of is the giving of leis. A lei is a typical Hawaian garland which can be made of any type of organic material such as leaves, shells but most commonly it is made of flowers. It originated from native Hawaiians who were the first settlers and still remain an important part of Hawaiian culture. This tradition became popularized when tourists started to come to Hawai'i. In the beginning each tourist was greeted with a lei, however, as Hawai'i became a more popular destination this could no longer continue. Nevertheless, within Hawaiian culture the tradition continues. Leis are given at celebrations such as weddings or graduations. The act of giving a lei represents a connection between the giver and the receiver based on affection and respect which is reinforced by the connection between the flowers. This is because the giver has spent time crafting the lei, gathering the materials and making it. In addition, different colors have different meanings. The materials used to make each lei use to always depend on the flora that grew on each island in the archipelago. The different types of flora and the different colors have different meanings. This is also an etiquette to be followed regarding lei giving. Firstly, when in Hawai'i you cannot refuse a lei if it is given to you, even by a stranger, as it would be seen as rude. When given one, you should bow your head and wait for the giver to put it around your neck. Once you are wearing it you should not remove it in front of the person who has given it to you. When you are ready to dispose of the lei you should return it to the land or leave somewhere that has personal significance. The lei also must not have been worn before it was given. There are also different purposes and beliefs regarding the different types of leis. The most common type of lei is one that resembles a long necklace. However, there are also other types for example lleis called 'hakus' which go around the crown of your head. With each type of lei come different meanings. For example, a closed lei should not be given to a pregnant woman as it is believed to be unlucky. Leis are therefore an important part of everyday life, as is symbolized through the local interpretation of May day which is called Lei day and during which leis are given.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace