Giving and receiving lei as a gift is a popular Hawaiian tradition that holds deep significance and symbolism. These beautiful flower garlands are important parts of the traditions of Hawaii’s islands, and some unspoken rules are helpful to follow to avoid being disrespectful. Here are four ways to practice proper Hawaiian lei etiquette.
Never Refuse a Lei
The first way to practice proper Hawaiian lei etiquette is to never refuse a lei. In Hawaii, receiving a lei as a gift is a high honor. Therefore, people consider it very rude to refuse a lei when someone offers one. The proper way to accept a lei is to bow your head and allow the giver to place it around your shoulders.
Know When To Remove It
Knowing when and when not to remove a lei is another way to practice proper etiquette. Hawaiians consider it unkind and disrespectful to take off a lei in the presence of the person who gifted it to you. You should always wear the lei proudly in front of the person who gave it to you. You may respectfully remove the lei if you are no longer around this person later.
Never Throw It in the Trash
The third tip for respecting the tradition of Hawaiian lei giving and receiving is to avoid throwing a lei in the trash. Because receiving a lei is such a cultural honor, throwing these gorgeous garlands in the trash is inappropriate. Instead, you should return the lei to the land or place it in a place of personal significance to you. For example, many tourists and locals will leave their lei around the necks of famous statues on the islands.
Understand the Superstitions
Understanding the superstitions around giving lei is another essential thing to remember about this beautiful cultural tradition. You should never give a closed or tied lei to pregnant women, as Hawaiians consider this unlucky. Instead, you should only give pregnant women open-ended lei. It’s also unlucky to wear a lei before giving it to someone. If you’re gifting someone with a lei, you should ensure that no one else wears it beforehand.
Now that you have four tips for practicing proper Hawaiian lei etiquette, you can practice these the next time you give or receive a lei. Respecting different cultures and their traditions is essential and helps us understand one another and celebrate heritage. Hawaii Lei Stand has a stunning selection of traditional lei for all occasions, including memorial lei. Visit us if you need lei for upcoming events.