HONOLULU (KHON2) – In Hawaiʻi, we all make use of our roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to the given names?
Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi if you did?
Check out more news from around Hawaii
Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways around the islands so we can dig into the given name and as a result, learn something new.
This week, we learn about a Hawaiian adornment.
In the ahupuaʻa of Waiākea, which lies in the moku of Hilo on the island of Hawaiʻi, stands a short roadway named after what we put around our necks.
We are talking about Lei Street.
The word lei refers to the wreaths or garlands that adorn our bodies.
Mainly seen to be made out of flowers, lei can be made out of a variety of materials for the purposes of decoration and ceremony as well.
The extent to which lei were worn in ancient days is unknown, but its believed they were worn by all levels of society.
From flowers to ferns to shells and seeds to feathers and beyond, there are different ways to wear a lei.
A garland made to be worn around your neck is known as a Lei ʻĀʻī, ʻāʻī meaning neck.
One to be worn on your head, or poʻo, is known as a Lei Poʻo.
And when a small version of a lei is worn around your wrists or ankles, thatʻs known as Kūpeʻe which means bracelet or anklet.
The most popular style of lei, where flowers are strung together with needle and thread, is known as Kui.
But some share there are eight traditional styles of lei making.
Other styles include Hilo, Hili, Haku, Humu (or Humuhumu), Hīpuʻu (or Hīpuʻupuʻu), Wili and Nīkiʻi, referring to the way Niʻihau families tie their shell lei.
But no matter what style of lei is worn, the correct way to refer to that lei is by where it’s worn rather than its style.
For example, when wearing a Lei Haku on your head, the correct reference to that is a Lei Poʻo, not a Haku Lei.
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