The lei is widely regarded as an iconic symbol of the Hawaiian Islands. These beautiful garlands, introduced by Polynesian voyagers thousands of years ago, are considered to be a physical representation of Hawaii’s aloha spirit. There are several customs and protocols associated with giving, receiving, and wearing this Hawaiian token. Pali Florist & Gift Shop, a family-owned flower shop in Kailua, HI, since 1958, has shared a helpful guide for lei etiquette below. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Lei Etiquette 

1. Giving a Lei

When gifting a lei, it’s customary to kiss the recipient on each cheek as you place the flowers around their neck. Alternatively, present the lei with a bow forward while offering the lei in front of you. Remember: Never wear one that you plan on giving to someone else–this is considered to be bad luck.

2. Receiving a Lei

When presented with a Hawaiian lei, you should always accept it graciously and with a smile. It’s considered highly disrespectful to refuse one when offered. While leis are often presented with a kiss on each cheek, you can substitute this for a hug of thanks. If you suffer from allergies, it’s acceptable to slip it off discretely and with a word of apology. In these circumstances, it’s also acceptable to gift it to a nearby friend or loved one.

3. Wearing a Lei

leiThere’s never a wrong occasion to wear a lei. You never need to wait for a special occasion to don one of these beautiful garlands. The proper way to wear one depends on whether it is closed or tied together or open:

  • Closed: A lei should never be worn as a necklace. Position it over your shoulders so half is draped down the front and the other down the back.
  • Open: The middle of the flower lei should land in the middle of the neck, with the open ends laying evenly down the front of the torso.

For more information on the custom of giving, receiving, and wearing a lei, speak with the florists at Pali Florist & Gift Shop. This family-owned business is known for its stunning floral arrangements, incredible gourmet gift baskets, and prompt flower delivery. Visit their website for more information or call (808) 261-1818 today to place a custom order.