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When Do You Give a Graduate Their Lei?

A Hawaiian lei can mean many things, from a greeting to a gift of appreciation or a congratulatory token. Presenting a lei to a graduate, whether from high school or college, is customary in Hawaii, but when do you give a graduate their lie? Knowing the answer to this question can help you avoid complications and inconveniences to make the day free of difficulties—the giving of a lei should not be fraught with hassles.

What Types of Flowers Should You Give?

Before giving a lei, you should know which flowers are most appropriate in the context of graduation. Typically, a fresh orchid lei is given for its beauty and strong fragrance. Orchids themselves come in a variety of colors, which makes them ideal if you want the necklace to match the school’s colors.

Alternatively, you can adorn the lei with the black kukui nut. These nuts hold special significance in Hawaiian culture, which dates back nearly 2,000 years, but today, the kukui nut represents enlightenment. The symbolism of the kukui can enhance the meaning of the lei by acknowledging the graduate’s academic accomplishment and highlighting their achievement in learning.

When To Give The Lei

Traditionally, the graduation lei is given once the recipient has put on their full graduation robe and regalia. Placed over the shoulders, the necklace is visible and unencumbered by any cords or sashes the graduate may also be wearing.

Individual School Dress Codes

Depending on how strict the school is regarding their dress code, you may need to present the lei after the graduation ceremony. Knowing when to give the graduation lei can depend on the school’s wishes and whether it wants the graduating class to have a uniform look. If this is the case, you should present your graduate with the lei once you meet up with them after the ceremony has officially ended.

If the school restricts wearing extra regalia, don’t feel you have to exclude the lei from the ceremony completely. Even if you have to present the lei after the ceremony has concluded, doing so still holds significance, both cultural and personal.