Getting Lei’d at Graduation – Hawaiian Tradition and Style

Graduation ceremonies in Hawaii are a big deal. Yes, it’s a manor milestone in life, but. . .

The season makes me cringe  – the traffic is bad, drunk drivers are abound, general carousing and mayhem may occur. Some graduates seem to want to express this new sense of freedom after their twelve or so years of confined education . . .so its major, as in majah rajah!

I only attend if an immediate family member graduates. Other than that, I think its ridiculous.

Yes, they go through the ceremony and handing out of dimplomas, etc, but the amusing part is at the end –  the graduates get lei’d.

There’s hooting and hollering when your graduate’s name is announced, then there is the occasional blowing of foghorns! (After awhile, it gets annoying).

After the ceremony, it’s a scramble to the parking lot, looking for the graduate’s sign (a gigantic photo attached to a long stick) up in the air indicating his or her location like an arrow on the shopping mall map stating “the graduate is here.”

The fun part is seeing your graduate receive leis “up to their ears” – literally.

As I watched my nephew get lei’d, I noticed how craftier today’s generation has gotten creating leis that are more economically mindful and sensitive of today’s economy.

Sadly, some of the real flower leis were smashed at the bottom of the pile as strings of candy leis, and other sturdier leis trampled the delicate flowers.

Whereas back in the day, real flower leis were more affordable – time wise to make for free – or even purchased at a decent price.

I remember climbing neighborhood  plumeria trees or picking them off the ground so I could sew my own plumeria leis for various occasions.

But that’s a different story.

Photo by Mycah 2012

Leis mean so much and it is only fitting that people would shower the recipient with this tradition.

My family brought along fresh flower leis with them for my college graduation on the mainland, and that made it feel so much more like home.

It’s an Aloha thing! Congratulations to the Class of 2012 – wherever you are.

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