Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Hawaiian Lei - Hawaii's Premier World Icon

As history passes, most customs eventually fade from practice. Not so with the Hawaiian tradition of “lei giving.” This custom has managed to flourish since the 1800’s. During the “Boat Days” when ships arrived at the Aloha Tower pier, were my friend Don Ho has recently opened his new Island restaurant, lei vendors would line the pier to welcome locals (kama’aina) back home as well as malihini (visitors or newcomers) to the islands. Leis embody the “Aloha Spirit” of the gorgeous Islands of Hawaii. They are a symbol of friendship, love, and celebration, greeting, hello, farewell or honor; to put it in simple terms or other words, it’s a symbol of Aloha.
I delight in walking around Oahu where the hundreds of different flowers on display from local proprietors or lei makers enchant me with their intoxicating fragrances and vibrant colors. I find leis everywhere – from the white sands of Waikiki, to the tall waves of the North Shore; from street corners, to country roads, to office settings in downtown Honolulu and elsewhere.
Hawaii considers any occasion lei-worthy. A lei can be given for an office promotion, birthday, anniversary, thank you, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day / Father’s Day, funeral, luau or any occasion important to you. They also mark any important event in a person's life. There are leis of love, grief, leis of love making, marriage, of dying, and of birthing. There are leis for farming, religious ceremonies, political, community, social, and for private personal reasons. In old Hawaii, all those activities overlapped with each Hawaiian flower and each leaf having a specific symbolic meaning, with its own legends and its own intoxicating history. Yet more notably, a lei can be worn for no other reason than to just enjoy the fragrance, take pleasure in the beautiful flowers, or simply, to celebrate the “Aloha Spirit.”
The State of Hawaii consists of eight major Islands. Each Island has its own designated lei, which represents a harmonious marriage of texture and color.
Hawaii – Lehua
Kaho’olawe – Hinahina
Kauai – Mokihana
Lanai – Kaunaoa
Maui – Lokelani
Molokai – Kukui
Niihau – Pupu
Oahu – Ilima
From the earliest times, men and women worldwide have adorned themselves with leis. Perhaps what has made Hawaii's leis so unique in history is the fact that its rich culture was isolated so many centuries from other civilizations. The tropics offered an abundance of blossoms, beads, and leaves – each with its own historic legend.
It is said that departing visitors or newcomers (malihini) would throw their lei into the sea as the ship passed Diamond Head, in the hopes that like the lei, they too would return to the Islands again some day.
Although a flower lei may last only a few hours or days, I’ll promise you that the memories will remain forever young in your mind. Furthermore, you can rest assured that someone really loves or cares about you deeply if they present you Hawaiian leis.

Hawaiian Joe

About the author::
© 2006 Hawaiian Joe currently resides on the Island of Oahu. He has numerous websites of interest to include his "Red Hot" Hawaiian Island Touring News, Royal Hawaiian Tours, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Mall, Hawaiian Leis, as well as his Appalachian Cabin Rentals, his New Hampshire Ponderosa Log Siding for homes, and many many other investments and interests.

For leisure he partakes in freelance writing, photography, traveling and spoiling his grandchildren.


Ann said...

Wonderful article. What is your opinion of Hawaiian Airline Company?

Hawaiian Joe said...

I've flown with Hawaiian Airines. Their aircraft are clean, their service is superb. I would recommend them highly.

Hawaiian Joe

Hawaiian Joe said...

Try Hawaiian Airlines on your next vacation to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Joe