Hawaiian Lei Flowers - History Of Lei, Symbolism And Meanings Of Lei Flowers

by VioletteRose

Read all information about Hawaiian lei like history of Hawaiian lei and meaning of Hawaiian lei flowers. Also buy online the best leis for Hawaiian luau party and celebrations.

Hawaiian lei are beautiful garlands made out of exotic tropical flowers which are used during Hawaiian weddings and celebrations and also to welcome and greet visitors in Hawaii. Beautiful Hawaiian flowers of a variety of colors are used to make the lei, which usually include highly fragrant flowers like plumerias, tube roses, jasmine and also other non fragrant but exotic orchids and hibiscus flowers. Hawaiian lei have become an integral part of the Hawaiian culture including Hawaiian weddings and luau parties and these lei are very popular among the tourists too.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons Image

History of the Lei

The history of Hawaiian lei is interesting. Traditionally, flowers and leaves were not the only things used to make Hawaiian lei. Hawaiians also used shells, seeds, fruits, feathers, hair, ivory, even teeth and bones of animals to make the lei.  The feather and shell lei from old times can be seen at the Bishop museum at Oahu. Even today, shells and feathers are used along with flowers and leaves to make the lei.

Lei  is considered as a symbol of Aloha in Hawaii which means peace, love, affection, friendship and respect. Lei is used in Hawaii from a long time even by opposition parties as a sign of peace and harmony.

Lei was introduced to Hawaiians by Polynesians, who loved decorations with strings of flowers. During their voyage to Hawaii around the 12th century, Polynesian voyagers brought the lei along with many other things like new plants, food items and even medicines. As many of the voyagers settled in Hawaii, the beautiful lei also became a part of the Hawaiian culture due to the cultural influence. Hawaii became a popular tourist destination from around late 1800's and the Hawaiian lei also started becoming popular from that time, with the street vendors selling lei to the tourists.

From the year 1928, May 1st is celebrated as the Lei day in the Hawaiian islands. Hawaiians exchange and gift beautiful lei  on this day and they celebrate the day all around the islands including schools.

Buy Hawaiian Lei In Bulk - Artificial Silk Hawaiian Flower Leis

Mega Silk Lei Assortment (50 ct) for Tropical Hawaiian Luau Party F...

Lei Symbolism

If someone greets you with a beautiful lei in Hawaii, that means you are welcome. You are honored and respected, so it is usually considered rude to refuse a lei. Hawaiians use lei in all celebrations like weddings, birthdays, graduations and anniversaries, but they are more widely and commonly used in Hawaiian weddings and Luau parties, which are traditional Hawaiian parties.

The lei is usually worn around the neck or head. There is a belief that pregnant women should not wear lei around the neck since it relates to umbilical cord tangling.

Extremely fragrant flowers like jasmine, plumeria and tube roses are used to make the Hawaiian lei. Colorful flowers of orchids, hibiscus etc. are also very commonly used in lei to make the lei colorful.

Check Out This Hawaiian Lei Making Kit

Hawaiian Candy Lei Making Kit - 5 Red Hibiscus Lei Kits

An easy way to make a lei with candy, money, toys, mini bottles, and share the gift of aloha. Each kit comes with the supplies to make 5 complete leis. 5 cellophane tubes (52" l...

Only $4.99

View on Amazon

Orchid lei

Lei made with each kind of flower has a specific meaning, even though many are not aware about this. For example, lei made of orchid flowers are usually used to welcome and greet new visitors to Hawaii and they are also used to convey thanks.

Plumeria lei are also very widely used to welcome visitors, however it is not a good choice to greet those who are sick, since there is a belief that plumeria lei are not good during sickness.

Jasmine or pikake lei is a great choice to be used for weddings, as they represent love, affection and harmony. Usually red and pink roses are also used along with pikake lei. It looks like lei made of roses alone are not very common, and I am surprised why. Lei made of a kind of leaves called Maile lei are used by the hula dancers as they associate it with the goddess of dance.

Lehua Flower


Lehua is the official flower used in Hawaiian leis, and it is associated with strength as they represent Pele the goddess of fire.


These flowers were traditionally used by women to reduce labor pain. There is a belief that lehua are the first flowers that come after a volcanic eruption.



Image Of Lei made of red Lehua flowers

Ka Pua Lei O Lāna'ihale

Plumeria Flowers Lei Picture

Plumeria lei

You Can Buy here Lei For Tropical Hawaiian Parties Like Luau Party And Other Hawaiian Themed Celebrations

The  beautiful flower lei made of artificial flowers are great for Luau parties, weddings and other celebrations. They make great costumes for yourself or great gifts for your guests.

If you wish to purchase any of the lei shown below, you can do so by clicking on the images.

Pink Hibiscus Flower Lei For Luau Party

Pink Luau Lei & Headband Set

Plumeria Jamine Flower Artificial Silk Lei

Plumeria / Jasmine Poepoe 18" - Hawaii Silk Leis

Here is a beautiful flower lei light set which is 9 feet long and has 50 lights. The flower covers are made of silk and it will look great on Hawaiian Luau party celebrations.

Do you want to learn how to make an artificial Hawaiian ribbon lei yourself?

The book shown below on Hawaiian ribbon leis is available to buy from Amazon and it has photo illustrations and step by step instructions on how to make artificial Hawaiian ribbon lei. If you want to gift a lei which can be treasured forever, you can go for the artificial ribbon lei made by yourself.

Which Hawaiian lei do you like the most?

Updated: 10/07/2016, VioletteRose
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


VioletteRose on 03/27/2014

Thank you so much Dustytoes :)

dustytoes on 03/27/2014

Great page on leis. I will be linking to it.

VioletteRose on 03/25/2014

Thanks EmmaSRose for commenting! I couldn't find much about rose leis, not sure why.

Guest on 03/25/2014

VioletteRose, Jasmine is a favorite fragrance and a favorite flower for me, so I prefer leis with jasmine. But, then, all these flowers are beautiful, so I would be happy with all of them.
Even though I appreciate roses, I have never thought of them for their own leis, so it's interesting to read your information that pink and red roses seem to be included in jasmine leis but do not tend to be used for a lei completely of roses.

VioletteRose on 03/05/2014

Thank you for the nice comments :) I love flowers and I hope I can visit Hawaii sometime!

DerdriuMarriner on 02/24/2014

VioletteRose, A lei is a lovely topic for an article; the flowers' fragrance can be sensed in the photos, at least for me. In my childhood, I was gifted with many Hawaiian icons by my godmother, who lived and worked there as a nun. I especially loved the plumeria perfume which she regularly sent to me.

Mira on 02/19/2014

This is an interesting article, and it's the first time, I think, that I see plumeria flowers. And paradise petunias. Wonderful! Thanks for this :)

Tolovaj on 02/19/2014

I had no idea there are so many meanings behind lei, but it makes sense to have different flower for different occasions. Great photos! I have to visit Hawai one day:)

VioletteRose on 02/19/2014

Thank you ologsinquito :) glad you liked the pictures!

ologsinquito on 02/19/2014

This is a beautiful Hawaiian tradition. I really like the photos that you used.

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