What Is the Meaning of the Hawaiian Tradition of Wearing a Flower Behind the Ear?

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Plumeria flowers are worn in Hawaii as general adornment and as part of hula ‘auana costuming. The side on which a person wears the flower for adornment is significant.

The Plumeria grows in tropical regions like Hawaii, and its blossoms are used to make the lei, a familiar form of adornment on the island. The flowers are also used as part of what hula dancers wear, particularly those who perform the hula ‘auana, or modern hula.

People also wear the Plumeria generally for its beauty. People who wear it behind the right ear are identifying themselves as single or available; people who wear it behind the left ear are identifying themselves as married or in a relationship.