Items Knowledge: Hawaiian Lei

Item Real Name: Garland or Wreath (Hawaiian: Lei)

Lei are a Hawaiian word for a garland or wreath. It is not just flowers strung on a thread. Lei are a tangible representation of aloha in which symbols of that aloha are carefully sewn or woven together to create a gift. This gift tells a story of the relationship between the giver and the recipient. Many things can make up the lei. One can string flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even bone and teeth of various animals into a lei.

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.” However, on our website we have chosen to use the anglicized version of this word to prevent confusion.

Lei are a common symbol of love, friendship, celebration, honor, or greeting. In other words, it is a symbol of Aloha. Take a walk around Hawaii; you’ll find leis everywhere—graduations, parties, dances, weddings, and yes, even at the office. In Hawaii, any occasion can be considered special and “lei-worthy.” No one can resist the vibrant colors, the intoxicating fragrances, or the beautiful tradition of Hawaii’s most recognized icon…the flower lei.
The most popular concept of the lei in Hawaiian culture is a wreath of flowers draped around the neck presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of affection. This concept was popularized through tourism between the Hawaiian Islands and the continental United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.


The History of the 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.

Most Hawaiians preferred the Maile lei–a leafy vine that has fragrant spicy-sweet leaves that is draped and worn open-ended to the waist. However, royalty and Hawaiian chieftains favored the fiery, vibrant Ilima—a thin orange blossom that requires hundreds of flowers to make a single lei strand. Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani’s favorite lei were the Pikake—named after the peacocks in her garden—for the heavenly white blossoms and sweet jasmine fragrance.

The state of Hawaii is consists of eight major islands. Each island has its own designated lei which represents a harmonious marriage of texture and color. Most of these leis are unavailable for shipping to the mainland due to strict agricultural laws.
Hawaii – Lehua
Oahu – Ilima
Maui – Lokelani
Kauai – Mokihana
Molokai – Kukui
Lanai – Kaunaoa
Niihau – Pupu
Kaho’olawe – Hinahina


About May Day
Since May 1, 1928, Hawaii has celebrated every May first as it’s official “Lei Day.” Hawaiians call it “May Day.” The flower lei are celebrated passionately on May Day with Hula, parades, and music. On May Day, most parents request to take a day off of work so they can watch their children participate in May Day festivities and programs at school. Everyone in Hawaii is encouraged to wear lei on May Day.

Video Instructions:


Lei Etiquette
Lei can be worn, received, or given for almost any occasion. In Hawaii, lei are given for an office promotion, a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation, or any special event. Yet more notably, a lei can be worn for no other reason than to enjoy the fragrance, take pleasure in the beautiful flowers, or simply, to celebrate the “Aloha Spirit.”

There is one big faux pas that should never be made. Never refuse lei! Always graciously accept the lei with a toothy smile and a kiss on the cheek. (If you don’t feel comfortable with giving or receiving a kiss on the cheek, a warm hug is acceptable!) If you are allergic or sensitive to flowers, then discreetly and apologetically slip-off the lei. It is acceptable and considered a kind gesture to offer the lei to your spouse if you are unable to wear it.
If they cannot be properly worn around the neck, due to allergies or other reasons, (for instance a musician who would tangle the lei in his or her guitar strap), they must be displayed in a place of honor, such as the musician’s music stand or microphone stand.

Leis must also be disposed of properly; throwing lei away is akin to throwing away the person who gave the leis love. The proper way to dispose of lei is to return it to the place it was picked. If that is not possible, hanging it on a tree, burning it or any other way of returning it to nature are proper ways of disposal.

By tradition, there is one more taboo…it is considered (in Hawaii) impolite to give the closed (tied) lei to a pregnant woman. Many Hawaiians feel that the closed lei around the neck are bad luck for the unborn child. (Head Hakus and open-ended leis are acceptable to give to pregnant woman.) 



YoVille Item Name: Coconut Top w/Purple, Pink Lei
Store Price: $4 YoCash
Released Date: Jan 2010


YoVille Item Name: Hawaiian Lei Garland
Store Price: $7 YoCash
Released Date: Apr 2011


YoVille Item Name: Hawaiian Flower Garland
Store Price: $7 YoCash
Released Date: Apr 2011


YoVille Item Name: Hawaiian Leaf Garland
Store Price: $6 YoCash
Released Date: Apr 2011


YoVille Item Name: Jumba Garland
(designed by 2011 Wedding Attire Design Contest)
Store Price: $6 YoCash
Released Date: Apr 2011


YoVille Item Name: Angela Garland
(designed by 2011 Wedding Attire Design Contest)
Store Price: $6 YoCash
Released Date: Apr 2011

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