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Hawaiian Flower Lei

Updated on August 22, 2016
Copyright Ruth Elayne Kongaika
Copyright Ruth Elayne Kongaika

Sharing Aloha

Lei giving is part of living in Hawaii. Leis represent the aloha spirit. They are given for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, graduation, weddings, anniversaries, for special guests at meetings on Sunday, and of course, when tourists arrive or family comes to visit.

In our yard we had a white plumeria tree and also a pink plumeria tree. I would send my granddaughter out to pick the flowers on the lower branches, or she would use a broom to knock the blossoms off the higher limbs, and then gather them and put them in a plastic bag with a little water spritz to keep them fresh. Then we would sit down together and make our very own lei to share with someone.

We would take a large stainless steel needle (being very careful not to prick ourselves) and use fishing line or strong thread to make our lei (dental floss can also be used). It would take about 50 plumeria blossoms for a simple 40-inch lei. You just put them on one after another, threading through the center of the flower. When you have finished stringing all the flowers, tie off the thread/line and cut off any excess.We would often add a pretty matching ribbon. This is a fun time to visit, bond and enjoy nature as well as saving money from buying a lei from the market.

Plumerias are the easiest flower leis to make because they have fairly large holes right in the middle. The only disadvantage of plumeria leis is that they discolor quite quickly, so you need to give them away to someone you would like to honor sooner rather than later. Plumeria leis smell and look beautiful!

Other flowers that can be used for leis that grow in Hawaii are, ‘Awapuhi ke’oke’o (White Ginger), Walahe’e Haole (Mock Orange), ‘Ilima (Hibiscus), Kiele (Gardenia), Kupalo (Tuberose), Kepalo (Bouganvilla), Loke (Roses), Male (Stephanosis), 'Ohai ‘Ali’I (Poinciana), ‘Okika (Orchid), and Pikake (Arabian Jasmine).

You can also mix flowers, like using small roses between gardenias, and adding a bit of greenery (like in the picture of the lei above).

Tips about leis:

If you are offered a lei by someone, do not refuse it. If you are allergic to flowers, at least let them put it on you and then politely tell them that you are allergic, but that you really appreciate it. You can give it to someone else that is not allergic. They will understand.

Usually leis can be worn multiple times depending on their condition. Most fresh leis can be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to keep it fresh. Plumeria leis are usually good for two days, while some other flower leis may last much longer. Plumeria leis will not last when put in the refrigerator.

Anciently, visitors to the islands would throw their leis in the sea as they departed on their ships. If the lei drifted back to the shore where it came from, that meant they would return again someday.

Do not throw a lei in the trash when you are finished using it. Because it was a living thing, place it where it can return to the earth. However, cut the string so animals will not be strangled by it. Aloha!

Comments

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  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks HaoleFeet. You can put your new lei in a plastic bag and put it into your refrigerator, but it is best to give it fresh prior and then the recipient can put the lei in the refrigerator and wear it the next day. The length of time your lei will last depends on the type of flower you use. I appreciate your commments.

  • profile image

    HaoleFeet 6 years ago

    Can you clarify what you mean by refrigeration? You say you can keep them fresh in the frig, but they won't last. I plan to make a lei this weekend and want to start cumulating flowers now.

  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Wish I could come right over and give you a lei right now flower. Let me know when you are back in Hawaii and I will come to the airport to give you one. There are some beautiful flowers here. Thanks for commenting.

  • profile image

    flower 7 years ago

    I have visited Hawaii and there is an abundance of beautiful flowers.

    I would love to receive a lei.

  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks Miranda. Smells good too.

  • profile image

    Miranda 7 years ago

    Nice decorative flower that is.

  • peacegirl101 profile image

    peacegirl101 7 years ago

    Thats good, Elayne! =) Aloha

  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    No, I have not found any flowers that I am allergic to, thank goodness, since we are surrounded by them.

  • peacegirl101 profile image

    peacegirl101 7 years ago

    Thanks, Leis are very pretty. Are you alergic to flowers? aloha

  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    That's great peacegirl101. Hope you enjoy making your own lei. Glad you are not allergic to flowers.

  • peacegirl101 profile image

    peacegirl101 7 years ago

    Pretty hub! i love leis, even though i dont live in hawaii i have lots of them, store-bought not handmade though, i am eager to make one myself! thanks for the boost! :D aloha

    BTW, i am not allergic to flowers. ( thankfully )

  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    You would be surprised how many people are allergic to flowers. Some that live here in Hawaii. So sad. Glad you are not cosette and hope you get to experience a real Hawaiian lei soon. Aloha!

  • profile image

    cosette 8 years ago

    omgsh i would be heartbroken if i were allergic to flowers. i have always wanted to visit Hawaii...so gorgeous there. i never knew what flowers were in Leis, although i assumed gardenias were there somewhere. beautiful hub! (and your photo is beautiful also. good composition). rating this UP.

  • elayne001 profile image
    Author

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I appreciate your comments Katrina. So many beautiful and fragrant flowers surround me that I feel so blessed. Aloha!

  • Katrina Ariel profile image

    Katrina Ariel 8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

    Oh, some of my most vivid memories from Hawaii are actually smells! Fragrant leis. Yum. I'm looking forward to visiting again soon. Thanks for this lovely hub - it's good to learn more about the tradition and how to respect it.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 8 years ago

    I make fresh floral arrangements, so learning how to make leis is interesting. I've always wanted to make one, so now, I can always come back to this hub when I need some help. Thanks.

  • profile image

    Liana 8 years ago

    I miss the beautiful fragrant leis--especially the plumarias!

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