Learn the history behind Hawaiian Lei’s
A stroll through Paradise Cove’s Hawaiian village is a great chance to spend time with local experts and sample the favorite arts and crafts of the islands.
Guests can visit with traditional lei makers and be part of the special history of Hawaii’s famed necklaces of flowers that have become universal symbols of beauty and friendship. They are always made with great care and given with love and respect.
The custom of giving and wearing leis was brought to Hawai’i centuries ago by voyagers from Tahiti and Polynesia. In addition to personal use, leis were symbols of homage and reverence and placed on sacred images. That practice continues today as leis are hung on statues of honored personages. The statues of Father Damien and Queen Liliu’okalani near the State Capitol are often decorated with beautiful leis. The statue of famous island waterman Duke Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach receives leis daily while the statue of Kamehemeha I across from ‘Iolani Palace is draped from head to toe with leis often 20 to 40 feet long in celebration of his birthday.
Today there are as many kinds and styles of leis as there are flowers. And if you run out of flowers, there are always fern or seeds, leaves, pods, shells, nuts and berries. If you run out of important occasions or reasons for lei giving, it’s perfectly OK to make one up!
It’s also perfectly all right to buy or make a lei for yourself. Leis are worn for the simple pleasure of their beauty and fragrance or to just feel festive. And don’t be self-conscious about wearing a lei – a lei means you’re very special. Remember, time doesn’t matter in the giving or wearing of a lei. The fragrance and form will fade, but the spirit lives forever.