Whether you’re planning a graduation luau or celebrating the life of a loved one by the sea, sharing and wearing lei is a momentous exchange.
When you’re honoring this tradition, it’s important to understand what it means to receive a Hawaiian lei and how to follow good Hawaiian lei etiquette to maintain its sacristy. If you’re curious about how to wear or properly handle lei, it’s crucial to learn about the roots of the tradition and way it’s honored Hawaii natives today. Explore how to follow good Hawaiian lei etiquette to honor and maintain the fragrant tradition.
Always accept Lei
Receiving lei is a token of affection and acceptance by who is presenting it. The custom of receiving lei upon arrival in Hawaii is a way of saying aloha to newcomers. It’s customary to accept a lei when offered, and if you must remove a lei, it’s important to remove it discreetly or hang it up in an honorable way.
Correctly wear Lei
When you receive lei, keep it draped over the shoulders and hanging over your chest and back. If you’re presenting lei to a pregnant individual, it’s tradition to give an untied lei because a closed back symbolizes misfortune in Hawaiian tradition.
Never throw Lei away
Even if you’re not accepting or giving lei on the shores of Hawaii, there’s a special way to dispose of natural lei that you can honor anywhere. Lei symbolizes love to Native Hawaiians, and the tradition of disposing of a lei is to return it to the earth. If lei is not hung from the tree or buried in the earth, it’s utilized as décor or a talisman inside the home to bring a pleasant fragrance.
Each year, Hawaiian natives celebrate Lei Day to honor the rich history of lei-making between people and their gods. The tradition of lei-making originated in Hawaii but is a celebrated practice around the world. Next time you’re partaking in a lei ritual, consider these etiquette rules to honor the lei’s fragrant history.