General Hawaiian Etiquette

The customary way to welcome or congratulate someone is to present him or her with a lei, a garland of flowers (or other decorative items) strung together and worn around the neck. One puts the lei over the recipient´s head and if the relationship is close, gives the recipient a honihoni or a kiss. Lei are especially appropriate for high school and college graduations, birthdays, etc. Lei are also provided to keynote speakers and dignitaries at public functions (generally anyone with a public title, e.g. politicians, religious leaders, school principals). Children often appreciate candy or money lei. It is considered bad luck to throw a lei away. When the lei is no longer wearable, some people cut the string and cast the individual flowers into the ocean. Others may hang the withering lei somewhere inside or outside the house. A lei is love, and one doesn´t throw away love.