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The May Day tradition dates back to the pre-Christian era with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers.

So it wasn’t too far of a stretch when in 1929 Hawaii officially made May 1st Lei Day.

lei

Lei Day is a day to celebrate island culture with lei-making competitions, concerts, and the giving and receiving of lei among friends and family. With the advent of tourism, the Lei became a world-wide symbol of Hawaii. The Lei was actually introduced to the Hawaiian islands by Polynesian voyagers. Leis are constructed of flowers, leaves, shells, nuts, and even bone and teeth of animals. Traditionally, Hawaiians wore them to beautify themselves and distinguish themselves from others. Basically, the best kind of jewelry (and it smells good, too!) 🙂

Lei also symbolize the spirit of Aloha. The giving and receiving of lei is an act of welcoming, love, and family. In fact, in old Hawaii, lei were given to both visitors coming to the island and people leaving the island. It is said that people leaving the island on ships would throw their lei into the ocean and let it return to the island in hopes that they too would someday return.

There aren’t many rules when it comes to wearing lei. Anyone can wear them anytime, anywhere. However, be aware that a lei is considered a welcomed celebration of one person’s affection for another. Always accept a lei that is offered to you. It is properly worn draped over the shoulders, hanging both in the front and the back. It is also considered rude to remove the lei in front of the person who gave it to you, so be careful!

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