Kailua, Hawaii
312 Kuulei Rd
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 261-1818

The Symbolism of the Traditional Hawaiian Flower Lei April 3, 2017

Kailua, Koolaupoko
The Symbolism of the Traditional Hawaiian Flower Lei, Koolaupoko, Hawaii

The visual of visitors receiving a flower lei upon arrival in Hawaii is enough to make almost anyone book a tropical getaway to the islands. Bright and beautiful, these stunning floral arrangements have come to symbolize the state.

flower leiIn Polynesia, the lei is traditionally given to celebrate a friendship, honor a loved one, or simply show affection. Early Polynesian travelers brought that warm spirit to the islands, and the colorful arrangement soon became a key part of Hawaiian life. Ancient Hawaiians adorned their leis with more than just flowers—they added feathers, seeds, nuts, and shells to create unique pieces that set them apart from others on the islands.

Drawing on the Polynesian tradition of gifting leis as sentimental offerings, early Hawaiians even presented warring chiefs with leis as peace offerings. The two leaders would meet in a temple and entwine their leis together. This was also a public show of companionship between opposing groups.

Today, the flower lei is just as symbolic of warmth, support, and affection. They are given for almost every happy occasion, from birthdays and anniversaries to weddings and graduations. They are presented to visitors and those who depart the state. Many also place them on graves in lieu of traditional sympathy flowers.

Due to its association with friendship and good tidings, the flower lei is always a welcome gift. In other words, it would be poor etiquette to refuse receipt of a lei. Similarly, it’s considered inappropriate to remove a lei after it has been placed on you. If you happen to be in Hawaii on the first day of May, you can even celebrate Lei Day, a state holiday that honors the Hawaiian spirit of aloha. There’s no better way to enjoy the beauty of a brilliant flower lei.


Pali Florist & Gift Shop is the leading source for beautiful floral arrangements and flower delivery in Kailua, HI. You’ll find a wide range of the freshest tropical flowers, bouquets, roses, and other favorites, all perfect for any occasion. Visit the florist’s website to view their offerings, or call (808) 261-1818 with any questions.

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