May day is also called Lei day in Hawaii, its a popular and fun way to cherish someone you love and care for with a beautiful hand-made lei.
The origins of lei making started with the early Polynesians and settlers to the Hawaiian islands to honor their gods by twining greens into wreaths and making these as offerings. They also used the wreaths and flowered lei made of fragrant ginger blooms to decorate and adorn their bodies. Other fragrant greens used included maile and hala leaves which were used extensively to celebrate various rites, special occasions and daily wear.
This concept of giving a lei to someone special was then popularized with the influx of tourism throughout the Hawaiian islands around the 19th and 20th century. Presenting a lei during the arrival or departure of a love one was shared and communicated as a sign of affection and aloha and still is still used currently as a symbol of affection and aloha.
Leis are now made with many different and aromatic flowers to include tropical plumeria, jasmine, ginger, roses, gardenias, tuba rose and scented orchid blooms to create aromatic and beautiful displays. Every flower and color combination is available and sold through different wholesale and retail outlets. Leis are also made with with many types of organic materials including seeds, shells, fabric and ribbon along with a variety of greenery to create different looks and texture and patterns.
(A gorgeous tutu or grandmother wears and elaborate collection yellow, orange and red flowered leis at a hula performance in Hawaii)
Green material used for the leis above include aromatic maile leaves, ferns and seeds pods, along with the very popular plumeria well loved for its wonderful aroma. Fresh leis are made and worn as adornment for each and every hula performances like the dancer above performing at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo.
Lei day celebrations today in East Hawaii are marked with lei and craft demonstrations, live music and performances and other festivities celebrating this well loved tradition. It seems so appropriate for the first day of May to celebrate spring and a beautiful day by making a lei and giving to someone special in your life..
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