When we arrived to Hawaii, we all wanted the traditional flower necklace you see on the movies, we didn’t even know what it was or why it is given for. However, after taking a “lei making” class I knew all about it. The necklace is actually called “lei” it is an ancient tradition in Hawaii brought by the Polynesian people, it can be made from leaves, flowers, shells, nuts, and even teeth from several animals. It is used as a symbol of beauty and uniqueness, given to one another in celebrations, such as graduations, weddings, anniversaries, or to symbolize your love for someone special. Several years ago the lei
was given to welcome Malihini (visitors) and Kama’aina (locals) back home, it is said that when leaving the islands by boat, people would throw their lei (there is no singular or plural distinction in Hawaiian language) to the ocean hoping to return to the islands. Now the lei is the Hawaiian symbol to millions of visitors. Anyone can wear a lei and locals have several of them and use them in special occasions. There are some rules, however, to using the lei, if someone gives it to you, you cannot take it off in front of the person who gave it to you (it is considered rude); and the lei should rest in your shoulders hanging in front and in your back, you can wear as many as people give you in one day, there is no rule for that.
The class I took was from the hotel, and it truly was amazing. First of all it is free, and you can make as many lei as you want to. They taught us how to make the flower lei, there were hand picked flowers and you use a special long needle with a string to bond all the flowers together. It is made carefully and as it said on the brochure they gave us: “as a reflection of your love and affection for each other. As you exchange this lei, you will now begin to weave your own lei of life.” I absolutely enjoyed doing this, it is good to know how this tradition started and why it became such an important Aloha welcoming gift for tourists. Hope you like the pictures and the information, and remember always to keep it local!!!