For Lei Day, up-coming graduations, & Mother's Day around the corner, lei making season begins! Hundreds of families work countless hours to ensure that their loved one feels recognized and appreciated on these special days. But, leis don’t always have to be made out of flowers – in fact, nowadays lei can be made out of a variety of materials and use many techniques.
May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii. Traditionally, lei making originated with Native Hawaiians. They would use lei to honor their akua or gods, as well as to beautify and distinguish themselves from others. Lei were made out of flowers, leaves, shells, feathers, nuts and even teeth from various animals. The Kukui nut lei was worn only by ali‘i (royalty). In ancient Hawai‘i, the maile lei was potentially the most sacred as it was often used to signify a peace agreement between chiefs. The intertwining of green maile vines would signify peace between the two groups. Today, lei greeting is still very much part of the Native Hawaiian culture, as they represent friendship, appreciation, love, graduation and recognition.