Posted in Community, hospitality, Joyfulness, kindness

The Legacy of the Lei: A Symbol of Aloha

image collage of lei history

Aloha is Hospitality, Kindness, Forgiveness, Beauty, and Love. It benefits everyone! The Hawaiian lei is a lovely symbol of Aloha… it provides a loving and unconditional “welcome”

Image of King Kamehameha adorned in leis
Royal Leis for King Kamehameha

Lei Résumé:

Its objective

A gesture to welcome visitors, be lovely, be fragrant, bring joy, represent hospitality, show kindness, and encourage community.

image of shell lei
Ni’ihau Shells

Its origin

Leis were once made of hair, feathers, shells, bone, leaves, vines, flowers and even teeth. Materials used were associated to certain cultural beliefs and superstitions. Maile (leafy fragrant vine), associated with a spiritual connection to the forest, was and still is a highly favored lei material, dating back to 750 A.D. when the Hawaiian Islands were first settled.

Its growth

 Seeds, leaves , vines, kukui, feathers ,and flowers like Ilima and Pikake, are still used to create magnificent garlands. The flowers from the hala fruit are connected to love and desire. In addition to the traditional style, many leis are now comprised of candy, money and various textiles like fur and specialized yarns. A symphony of techniques from the past and mixed with current design, make up the crafting of a lei. There still exists an etiquette in receiving a lei: do not refuse the gesture (unless you are highly allergic to the material).

Its impact 

The lei has never lost its symbolic character. It has however, grown in its attributes and skill set to bring cheer to the giver and receiver. Each year on May 1st, Hawaii celebrates Lei Day to commemorate the culture, history and symbolic nature of the lei. It is globally recognized as a tangible symbol of the versatile and comprehensive qualities of Aloha

close-up image of orchid lei
Orchid lei

Lei Legacy

The lei, as a symbol and gift of Aloha, is used in countless capacities, from welcoming new arrivals, to celebrating a wedding, graduation, promotion, birthday, reunions, or even paying respect to a passing loved one. Here are the attributes that will never go out of style:

  • Welcoming and Encouraging
  • Soothing and Gentle
  • Beautiful and Fragrant
  • Delightful and Positive
  • Globally recognized
  • Doesn’t discriminate

image collage of leis

Author’s personal note:

In 2005 I launched a journey of encouragement, love, kindness, and hospitality…sharing the “Gifts of Aloha” is still my tagline. I began designing and creating permanent leis, each labeled with a message of encouragement. In 2017 I will return to that quest. All in God’s timing! Check back or follow so you are notified when I post pictures of them and perhaps I will be inspired to post some how-to videos!

 Be sure and check out this great YouTube Video entitled, “Making a Maile Lei”, by user harley anna. The tutorial well done and music is wonderful:

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