I had a mini-rant on Twitter the other day, looking at Grammy coverage and noticing that someone had commented on Daniel Ho's planty-ness. As one of my friends tries to remind me, sometimes people just don't know stuff, so here is my seven things about leis.
1. A lot of people know about leis, but they are familiar generally with the most generic kind - the plumeria flower leis that are often handed out at the Honolulu airport and such. There is nothing wrong with this kind, but it it by no means the only kind. And while I'm going to make a lot of general statements here, obviously different families will have their own variations.
2. Leis can be made of just about anything - leaves, flowers, nuts, yarn, and shells are more common but I'm pretty sure you could do it with soda can tabs if you wanted. (You might look like you were auditioning for "Joe vs. the Volcano" however.)
3. Leis are traditionally worn for special occasions, this includes birthdays, weddings, graduations, and pretty much any occasion where one might take effort with one's appearance, so if my life included awards shows, that would qualify also.
4. They are also given out anytime one might want to say thanks, or you're awesome, or so glad you're here - which is why you see them at airports.
5. Leis can be open or closed. Open meaning that the ends are not connected, so that the lei is worn more like a stole. Generally it's a style choice, although typically pregnant women only wear open leis.
6. Maile lei's are ubiquitous. The maile is, well, it has a distinctive smell, so you notice it's presence. Sometimes the maile leaves are twisted with a strand of flowers, and sometimes the leaves are on their own.
7. Leis are also commonly made of ti leaves (not to be confused with tea leaves, although people may do that too) since ti is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
Now certainly, you may still feel that all black with the green lei still looks planty, but at least, hopefully now it will be less surprising.