Hawaii's finest flower leis for three generations

All About Leis

Leis are just as much of a symbol of Hawai‘i as Spam and palm trees! It is the epitome of Aloha. We here at Cindys Lei Shoppe have been committed to sharing with you the beauty that is a lei. 

History

Throughout all the islands in the South Pacific, Polynesians honored their gods by twining greens into wreaths and adorning themselves with strings of flowers and vines..Before Western contact, Hawaiians used indigenous materials or plants introduced from other parts of Polynesia. The most commonly used plants and flowers were hala or pandanus, lehua, `ilima, ti and maile.These leis are considered the premium leis that are highly coveted today by many Hawaiians and locals alike. Unfortunately these premium leis do not ship due to some places due to agricultural laws, but they are available to order if you are picking up locally.After long ocean voyages ceased and Hawaiians entered a period of cultural isolation (1300s-1778), they developed a richer variety of lei than anywhere else in Polynesia. In a lifestyle that fused ritual and nature with every aspect of daily life, lei were a ubiquitous ornament worn during any type of work activity, celebration or rite, by maka`ainana (commoners) as well as ali`i (chiefs). (Hawaii History Source)

The state of Hawaii in 1988 adopted the PuaAloalo or Ma `o-hau-hele (Hibiscus blackenridge) has the official 50th State floral emblem. However, Hawai‘i is consists of eight major islands and each island adopted a local flower as its emblemflower and color.(Net State Source)

Hawai‘i

Lehua(MetrosiderosmacropusM.collina) Also known as Pualehuais

Red

O‘ahu

Illima(SidaFallax) Also known as the Pua`ilimafrom the native dodder shrub

Golden Yellow

Kaua‘i

Mokihanais found on the native tree (Paleaanisata) 

Purple

Maui

Lokelani(Rosa damascene) also known as damask rose

Pink

Moloka‘i

KukuiAlso known as PuaKukui(Aleuritesmoluccana) from the candle nut tree 

Green

Lana‘i

Kaunaoa(Cuscutasandwhichiana) from the native dodder

Orange

Ni‘ihau

Pupuis also known as the Momi, Laikiand Kahelelani

White

Kaho’olawe 

Hinahinaalso known as PelesHair (Heliotropiumanomalumvar. argenteum) 

Gray 

Cindys favorite lei is Jumbo Pikake

Karens Favorite Lei is Pikake, Pakalana Twist

Old Hawai‘i

During the late 1800’s when steamships brought visitors to the islands, the visitors were greeted with aloha and given a beautiful fragrant lei as a way to greet them and welcome them to the island. People began to create legends about the lei. Some say the lei was lucky. The most popular legend was when you set sail to go home, if you toss your lei overboard and it floats toward the beach, you will someday return to the island. It is said that when a steamship left the island, hundreds of leis were seen floating on the surface of the ocean.

In the Late 1800’s ship brought many visitors to Hawai‘i by boat before the era of flight. These shipswere filled with adventurers seeking to explore these “foreign” tropical islands. Upon landing they were greeted by sounds of ukuleles, hula dancers adored with ti leaves and lei greeters. Upon departing the islands, travelers would toss their leis into the ocean, and if their leis drifted to shore, they were ensured a safe return to the islands. (We don’t recommend throwing your leis into the ocean now, unless you have removed the flowers from the string, to ensure we are protecting the oceans and the aina! )

May Day

Since May 1, 1928, Hawaii has celebrated every May first as it’s official “Lei Day.” Hawaiians call it “May Day.” The flower lei is celebrated passionately on May Day with Hula, parades, and music. On May Day, most parents request to take a day off of work so they can watch their children participate in May Day festivities and programs at school. Everyone in Hawaii is encouraged to wear a lei on May Day. 

What occasion is it okay to give a lei?

Any occasion you would buy flowers for, is an occasion fitting to bestow a lei! In Hawaii, a lei is given for every occasion! Birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, graduations, engagements, or just because!It is common for graduates to have so many leis around their neck that they can no longer see!Quite simply there does not need to be an occasion to wear a lei, We have many customers stop in to buy the most fragrant lei of the day to wear as their “perfume” or jewelry for the day

Etiquette The history of the Hawaiian lei tells us that originally leis were presented to another person by bowing and slightly raising the lei above your heart and offer the lei to be taken by the other person. It was considered very bad manners to raise your hands or arms above another person’s head, so it was never put around the neck.During World War II and the American soldiers arrival on Oahu, the custom changed and leis were placed around the neck and the recipient was given a kiss on the cheek to show affection and welcome. Now, in modern times, it is proper etiquette to give a lei or bestow one onto another person, and it is considered taboo to “lei” yourself. 

How to wear a lei

The proper way to wear a lei is gently draped over the shoulders, hanging down both in front and in back. If there is a bow/ribbon on the lei, it should be placed on the shoulder.

PregnancyIt is considered tabooto give a closed (tied) leis to a pregnant (hapai) woman. it is considered (in Hawaii) impolite, because many feel that a closed lei around the neck is bad luck for the unborn child and mother.Hakus (flower crown / head lei) and open-ended leis are acceptable to give to pregnant woman.Please let us know if you are planning to gift a lei to a pregnant woman, and we can tie extra flowers or bows at the end to keep the lei “open” for the mother and child. 

Accepting a Lei 

Always graciously accept a leiwith aloha, a smile and a kiss on the cheek. If you are allergic or sensitive to flowers, then discreetly and apologetically slip-off the lei. It is considered rude to remove a lei from your neck in the presence of the person who gave it to you, so if you must, be discreetIt is acceptable and considered a kind gesture to offer the lei to your spouse if you are unable to wear it. A safer option if there is a chance of allergies or sensitivity to certain leis, is our option to purchase specialty orchid leis which have no fragrance.

he history of the Hawaiian lei tells us that there is also a tradition with disposing of a lei. It should never be tossed in the trash. Leis should also not be thrown into the ocean or earth as they were in the past. We encourage everyone to protect our oceans and our aina, by removing the flowers from the string and then disposing of the each part accordingly. All leis are filled with love and aloha from each designer and we recommend that each lei should be returned where the flowers were gathered or returned to the earth by hanging it on a tree branch, removing the string and scattering the flowers, burying it or burning it. 

Lei making is an art. It takes a delicate hand and lots of love. We have leis that take several hours to create from harvesting the flowers, sewing/braiding and eventually to completed floral creation.

Keeping Leis Fresh

We at here at Cindys Lei shoppe are committed to providing our customers with the best floral products. We uses the freshest flowers possible to create your leis and we work hard to hand select flowers to provide the flowers similar to those portrayed on our website. We do not create leis for shipping until the morning that they will be sent out to ensure the longest longevity during transit. However as with all florals, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature and our Aina. Each flower is unique and perishable, which means sometimes they become unavailable and we reserve the right to substitute flowers without sacrificing the look and value of your unique floral art. 

Returning to Nature

The history of the Hawaiian lei tells us that there is also a tradition with disposing of a lei. It should never be tossed in the trash. Leis should also not be thrown into the ocean or earth as they were in the past. We encourage everyone to protect our oceans and our aina, by removing the flowers from the string and then disposing of the each part accordingly.All leis are filled with love and aloha from each designer and we recommend that each lei should be returned where the flowers were gathered or returned to the earth by hanging it on a tree branch, removing the string and scattering the flowers, burying it or burning it.

Lei making is an art. It takes a delicate hand and lots of love. We have leis that take several hours to create from harvesting the flowers, sewing/braiding and eventually to completed floral creation. 

Fragrant Hawaiian flowers are tuberose, pikake, ginger, and plumeria. Orchid leis are the hardiest, varying in sizes and colors.
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