The Fascinating History and Meaning Behind the Hawaiian Necklace Name

When it comes to Hawaiian culture, the necklace, known as a “lei,” holds a special place. These beautiful garlands are not only a symbol of hospitality and love but also carry deep cultural significance. In this article, we will explore the history and meaning behind the Hawaiian necklace name, shedding light on its origins, traditional uses, and contemporary adaptations.

The Origins of the Hawaiian Necklace Name

The word “lei” itself comes from the Hawaiian language, which is rich in symbolism and meaning. In Hawaiian, “lei” means a wreath, garland, or necklace. The tradition of wearing leis dates back centuries and has been an integral part of Hawaiian culture since ancient times.

According to Hawaiian folklore, the first lei was created by the goddess of love and beauty, Laka. She wove a lei using the leaves of the maile vine and presented it to her husband, the god of hula, Lono. This act of love and adornment set the stage for the significance of leis in Hawaiian culture.

The Symbolism and Meaning of Leis

Leis are not just decorative accessories; they hold deep symbolism and meaning in Hawaiian culture. They are often given as a gesture of love, respect, and aloha (the Hawaiian word for love and affection). Leis are used to celebrate special occasions, welcome visitors, honor achievements, and mark important milestones in life.

Each type of lei carries its own symbolism. For example, a lei made from plumeria flowers represents beauty and grace, while a lei made from maile leaves symbolizes peace and harmony. The choice of materials and colors used in a lei can convey specific messages and emotions.

The Traditional Uses of Leis

In ancient Hawaii, leis were not only worn around the neck but also adorned the head, wrists, and ankles. They were made from various natural materials, including flowers, leaves, shells, feathers, and even bones. The crafting of leis was a skill passed down through generations, and the art of lei-making was highly respected.

Leis were used in various traditional ceremonies and rituals. They were worn during hula performances, weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies. Leis were also exchanged as a sign of peace and friendship between tribes and communities.

The Evolution of Leis in Modern Times

While the traditional uses of leis remain significant in Hawaiian culture, the practice has also evolved to adapt to modern times. Today, leis are not only made from natural materials but also from synthetic materials, such as ribbons and plastic flowers. This allows for a wider variety of colors and designs.

Leis are now commonly used to welcome visitors to the Hawaiian Islands. Upon arrival at airports or hotels, tourists are often greeted with a fresh lei, symbolizing the warm hospitality and aloha spirit of the Hawaiian people.

Furthermore, leis have become popular as gifts for special occasions, such as birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. They are also used in corporate events and conferences to create a sense of unity and camaraderie among attendees.


Some popular flowers used in Hawaiian leis include plumeria, orchids, pikake, and tuberose. These flowers are known for their vibrant colors and sweet fragrances.

2. Are there any rules or etiquette associated with wearing leis?

Yes, there are a few etiquette guidelines to keep in mind when wearing a lei. It is customary to accept a lei with both hands and to never remove it in the presence of the person who gave it to you. Additionally, it is considered disrespectful to throw a lei away; instead, it should be returned to the earth by hanging it on a tree or burying it.

3. Can men wear leis too?

Absolutely! Leis are not limited to any gender and can be worn by both men and women. In fact, it is common to see men wearing leis during special occasions and celebrations.

4. Are there any specific occasions where certain types of leis are preferred?

Yes, certain types of leis are preferred for specific occasions. For example, maile leis are often worn by grooms during weddings, while plumeria leis are popular for graduations and birthdays. The choice of lei depends on the significance of the occasion and personal preferences.

5. Can I make my own lei?

Absolutely! Making your own lei can be a fun and creative activity. There are various tutorials and workshops available that teach the art of lei-making. You can choose your favorite flowers or materials and create a personalized lei for yourself or as a gift for someone special.


The Hawaiian necklace name, “lei,” carries a rich history and deep cultural significance. These beautiful garlands symbolize love, respect, and aloha. From their origins in ancient Hawaiian folklore to their modern-day uses in welcoming visitors and celebrating special occasions, leis continue to be an integral part of Hawaiian culture. Whether made from natural or synthetic materials, leis serve as a tangible expression of the warm hospitality and vibrant spirit of the Hawaiian people.


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