One of the prettiests customs of Christmas in Hawaii is making wreaths using native materials.Â
If you don't have some of the plants growing in your yard or a neighbor that will let you pick them you need to get a special permit to go up to the Hawaii National Volcanoes Park grounds or up on the slopes of Mauna Kea to pick some of the greens, flowers and berries.
The permit is free and good for two days, and you need to display it on your car dash if you park anywhere to pick along the roads or forests.
The proper protocol for picking is to first "ask permission" of the forest deities as you enter the woods.Â This is a must.Â You also pick only what you will be using and not strip a bush or plant completely.Â
The straw forms for the wreath are usually covered first with ti leaves
We might not have the 'traditional' greens, berries and pinecones associated with a mainland Christmas, but there are many beautiful greens, flowers and berries to choose from when you go foraging for your own wreath material in the forests of Hawaii.
Some of the materials I usually look for are the buds of the lehua blossom showing a bit of the red and also some of the blossoms.Â The lehua is the blossom of the ohia tree and in ancient times was a symbol of strength.Â The flower is the favorite of Madame Pele and represents the Big Island of Hawaii.
Ancient lore tells us that you must not pick or wear the lehua blossoms on your way up to visit Kilauea Volcano, but it does not forbid you from picking or wearing it when you arrive or on your way out of the forest or Madame Pele will make it rain.Â We always wait to pick them until we are almost ready to leave.
Another wonderful part of the ohia tree to use are the tender new tips of branches as they resemble velvety green or silver rose buds.
The berries and the tiny, sort of prickly leaves of the pukiawe plant are also used.Â The berries can be red, pink or white even on the same bush and the use of bits of this plant give your wreath a light airy look.
Another berry and leaves that are interesting to use is that of the 'ohelo, although we rarely if ever pick them in areas where the Hawaiian Nene, our State birds, make their home, because they like to feed on them.
Other plants such as the Uki grass are also used, especially when the "flower heads" have dried.
One of the perks of making Hawaiian Wreaths with all native material is that they usually dry well and can last a long time..long past the holidays.
If you buy the wreaths already made, they can run from $40 - $60 for one made on a 10" to 12" frame and up to $125 for a large one made using a 14" to 16" frame.
I missed going up to the slopes of our mountains this year in time to pick for making wreaths as I had planned, mainly due to weather conditions.Â We have had a lot of rain in the last few weeks and I dislike driving the Saddle Road (between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa) as the road is quite curvy and can be dangerous in the rain.Â You can see a sample of one of my wreaths here
I hope you enjoyed looking at the different styles of Hawaiian Christmas Wreaths!
Mele Kalikimaka to you and yours!