On this day in particular, the sweet fragrance of flowers will be especially apparent to your senses, with bouquets as one of the most popular ways to say, “I love you.” But in Hawaii, pua (flowers) color the islands all year long. You’ll see them in full bloom along the streets and in shopping centers or at luau and atop your meals as a tropical adornment. The subtly sweet plumeria flowers look good in all shades.

It’s also not uncommon to see flowers tucked behind people’s ears; plumeria, gardenia, hibiscus, tiare or puakenikeni flowers all fit nicely for guys and gals. You don’t even have to be from Hawaii to wear one of these natural beauts. Find a freshly fallen one or pick it off a tree (that’s on public property, of course) and wear a little bit of Hawaii all day long.

Some people say that wearing a flower in your ear indicates your relationship status. It’s not specific to the Hawaiian culture but has become a common understanding among most locals. Because our heart is on the left side, wearing a flower in your left ear means you’re taken/married (or your heart is taken). If you’re single and ready to mingle, then wear it on your right side.Sorry, guys…The flower placement says it all. She’s already taken!

Hawaiians say that the left side of a person is associated with the Hawaiian goddess, Hina, while the right side is associated with the male god, Ku. Therefore, a person’s left side is the feminine side, and the right side is more masculine. In Hawaiian mythology, the two were one of the earliest gods who watched over the ancient people. Hina is often associated with the moon while Ku took on several forms as the god of war, fishing, prosperity and farming. Hawaiians created that balance within a person by distinguishing the two sides as male and female counterparts. They often got traditional tribal tattoos (kakau) on the side opposite their gender to further promote such harmony.

A freshly-inked Hawaiian tattoo on this young lady’s right side, the side of Ku. The top half represents her mother’s genealogy while the bottom half represent’s her father’s.

The importance of balance in Hawaii and its modern-day culture remain prominent in the flowers we see tucked behind someone’s ear or the Hawaiian tattoos that link both genders. Tattoos to counterbalance one’s gender and a flower to show which way a heart leans. My advice for those looking to find a Valentine today: look to the flower for guidance. LOL. Hopefully it will save you from the embarrassment of accidentally approaching someone’s who is already taken. Oops!

Photo Credit: Katherine Finch (first), Makana Kane (second)

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wow. i always confuse flower should be on the right or left hand side, what the tattoo means? Thank you Allyssa

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