Hawaiian Flower Leis

Proper way of wearing hawaiian flowers

Hawaiian flowers can be worn in different ways for various occasions. Here are some ways to wear them and what they signify.

Head (Haku)

A shorter lei that is worn around the head. This garland is often made from flowers or from flowers with Hawaiian greenery woven in to accent the color of the blooms. Ti leaves are often used as the background material and fresh Hawaiian flowers of various colors are woven in. A masculine haku is generally made from greenery without flowers. A haku can be worn on the head while other leis are worn around the neck, wrists and ankles for a complete Hawaiian look for birthdays, graduations, weddings and luaus. A haku can also be tied around a favorite hat for a festive look.

Neck (Lei)

A neck lei is traditionally worn on the shoulders with half draped down the back and half down the front. Leis are presented by placing it on the shoulders of the recipient along with a kiss on the cheek. Multiple neck leis can be worn for special occasions such as graduations when the leis around a graduate’s neck may pile up to amazing heights. Leis are worn for weddings, birthdays, luaus and virtually any special occasion. They can also be worn simply for the fun of wearing them.

Hip (Hei)

The Tahitian hip hei is a garland of greenery that is worn around the hips. Ti leaves, raffia and other materials are often used to create these leis. Sometimes, feathers or flowers are woven into these hip belts. The materials are braided together to create a belt that leaves much of the leaves draping downward to give them motion as the wearer moves. Tahitian heis are often worn by dancers engaging in traditional Tahitian dances.

Wrist (Kupe’e)

The kupe’e is a small garland that can be worn around the wrist. It is made from flowers or greenery and is often given as a gift to show appreciation or love.


Wearing flowers in your hair is a beautiful way to accessorize your outfit, and different placements can mean different things about your romantic availability. According to Hawaiian tradition, when you place a flower behind your right ear, you signal that you are single. On the other hand, when you are in a relationship, you place a flower behind your left ear.

In Hawaiian culture, flowers are not only used for their beauty but also for their symbolism. The flower behind the ear is a symbol of love, respect, and hospitality. It is a way of showing appreciation and welcoming visitors.


A Hawaiian hair pick is a popular accessory that uses either real or artificial flowers to create an elegant adornment for the hair. These picks often feature hibiscus blossoms, and some versions are made from fabric flowers. Some prefer fabric flower picks because they last a long time and can be worn many times to many occasions. Others prefer the fragrant smell of fresh flowers that can be worn up to a few days. A Hawaiian hair pick can be worn with your hair loose and flowing or with an updo that highlights the lovely flowers in your hair.

In conclusion, wearing flowers in your hair is a beautiful way to accessorize your outfit and show appreciation in Hawaiian culture. Whether you choose to wear a single flower behind your ear or a Hawaiian hair pick, it is a way of expressing yourself and adding a touch of elegance to your look

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  1. I want to give a graduation garland to my friend soon, she’s in the Philippines. Is it okay for Filipinos to wear leis? Is it considered cultural-appropriation?

    1. Absolutely! While the practice of lei-giving has originated in Polynesia, various cultures and countries has made their own version of its design, purpose, and lei-giving etiquette. In the Philippines, the practice of lei-giving isn’t something new. In the past, we use sampaguita necklace during graduation ceremonies.

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