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Are you curious about the lei?

NO… not that kind of lay:) But you can get laid in Hawaii. Read about the history I have gathered below. Enjoy!

The Hawaiian Lei Tradition
The History of the Hawaiian Lei ~ The lei custom was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by early Polynesian voyagers, who took an incredible journey from Tahiti, navigating by the stars in sailing canoes. With these early settlers, the lei tradition in Hawaii was born. Leis were constructed of flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even bone and teeth of various animals. In Hawaiian tradition, these garlands were worn by ancient Hawaiians to beautify themselves and distinguish themselves from others. The Maile lei was perhaps the most significant. Among other sacred uses, it was used to signify a peace agreement between opposing chiefs. In a Heiau (temple), the chiefs would symbolically intertwine the green Maile vine, and its completion officially established peace between the two groups. On the first of every May, an event called Lei Day is celebrated to honor the act of lei making and the custom surrounding it.

A Custom of Aloha ~ Airport Lei GreetingWith the advent of tourism in the islands, the lei quickly became the symbol of Hawaii to millions of visitors worldwide. During the "Boat Days" of the early 1900s, lei vendors lined the pier at Aloha Tower to welcome malihini (visitors) to the islands and kama'aina (locals) back home. It is said that departing visitors would throw their lei into the sea as the ship passed Diamond Head, in the hopes that, like the lei, they too would return to the islands again someday.

Lei Etiquette ~ There are very few "rules" when it comes to wearing a Hawaiian lei. Anyone can wear one, anytime - there need not be an occasion. It is perfectly fine for one to purchase or make a lei for themselves. It is common for locals to have a nut, seed or shell lei on hand to wear on special occasions. And hats are often adorned with flower, fern or feather leis.

There are, however, a couple of "unspoken rules" one should know when receiving a lei for the first time. A lei should be a welcomed celebration of one person's affection to another. Therefore, always accept a lei, never refuse. The proper way to wear a lei is gently draped over the shoulders, hanging down both in front and in back. It is considered rude to remove a lei from your neck in the presence of the person who gave it to you, so if you must, be discreet. Lei giving is a regular part of any special occasion such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and graduations. It is not uncommon for a graduating senior to have so many leis around their neck that they can no longer see!

Lei or Leis? ~ The Hawaiian language does not distinguish between singular and plural. Therefore, the proper way to say the plural form of lei is actually just “lei.”

Goddess? ~ There is a goddess of lei making. Kuku'ena was the older sister to the more infamous volcano goddess, Pele. According to legend, she brought the seeds to Hawaii for the plants used in both lei making and medicine and is seen as a healer and a guide to those who get lost in the wilderness.

What do you do with your lei after it’s been worn? ~ Return it to nature. If it’s made of a plant, hang it on a tree, bury it in your backyard, or unstring it and give it to the ocean. Many types of lei can be left in a window to dry, allowing the natural fragrance to fill the room. This technique is often used in cars as well.

Bows ~ On the left shoulder signifies taken, on the right signifies single! Just like a wedding ring in the western world, it is worn on the left hand after marriage.

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Maile Lei
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Single White Orchid