History of the Hawaiian Lei: It is widely believed, the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian islands arrived during the 12th century. Amongst the necessary and favorite possessions brought, was the art and traditions of the lei. The early leis of Hawaii were actually Polynesian, resembling those found in other parts of Polynesia. These early leis help to explain the story of man' existence in time and space.
Early uses of the leis included: farmers giving a blessing of the gods upon fields and crops, ornaments for dancers, healing priests using leis for healing rites, and for sacred Hawaiian rituals. In addition, leis were symbols of chiefly rank and love and lovemaking. Gods and goddesses favored them and poets sang their praises.
The craft of lei making was further advanced by modern Hawaiians, who had the luxury of an inflow of numerous varieties of flowers. Among the many plants and flowers introduced during the 19th century by travelers and immigrants were carnations, gardenias, jasmine, marigolds, pansies, plumeria, roses and violets. As a result, the original Hawaiian lei was redesigned and restructured.oday in Hawaii, leis are presented around the head and shoulders of a special person. Presenting a lei signifies admiration, respect and honor towards the individual. Leis are also given during special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, weddings and all memorable moments in someone's life.