ALOHA FROM JENNIE: May 1st in Hawaii is known as May Day, and May Day is Lei Day. Most visitors arriving to the islands head over to the Royal Hawaiian Center or the Honolulu Museum of Art to participate in one of the popular lei-making classes, because nothing conveys the aloha spirit better than a beautiful and fragrant flower lei.
Traditional Hawaiian leis were made from non-perishable items such as feathers, shells, bone, wood and seeds. Leis were prized for their color, healing powers, and beauty.
Today, leis are typically 36-38 inches long, and it takes about fifty plumeria flower blossoms to complete such a lei. The most fragrant and fragile leis include the white plumeria flower pictured above, as well as tuberose, pikake, and ginger blossoms. The orchid lei is not as fragrant but is popular because of its hardiness and durability.
Lei stringing techniques can be as simple as inserting the needle through the center of each flower, or as intricate as creating a wheel spoke pattern or side to side weaving resulting in the complicated pieces shown above.
As you can see from the photo gallery, Hawaii’s flowers offer a wide range of colors and textures for creating lovely leis, as well as hair crown pieces and wristlets.
Since 1872, Hawaii has celebrated the memory of King Kamehameha who united the various Hawaiian islands in the chain. Thus, each June 11th, a lei draping ceremony is performed on the prominent statue of King Kamehameha located in front of Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu. A photo of the glorious results is included above. Hope that you've enjoyed a glimpse into this unique Hawaiian craft..