The Significance of Purple Leis for Celebrating Graduation Milestones

The Significance of Purple Leis for Celebrating Graduation Milestones
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The Significance of Purple Leis for Graduation

Graduation is a momentous occasion marking an important transition in a student's life. After years of hard work and dedication to their studies, graduates finally have the chance to celebrate their academic achievements. One of the most iconic symbols of graduation is the lei. These colorful garlands hold deep meaning and make graduation extra special.

For many cultures, especially those with Hawaiian and Asian roots, leis are traditionally given to graduates at commencement ceremonies. The act of draping a lei around a graduate's neck is full of symbolism. It represents pride, luck, protection and the aloha spirit. Leis are a heartfelt way for loved ones to show their support for graduates as they embark on their next chapter.

Why Give Purple Leis?

While leis come in all different colors, purple is one of the most popular for graduation. Here are some of the key reasons purple leis are significant for graduates:

  • Purple symbolizes accomplishment. The color is associated with ambition, wisdom and dignity. For graduates, it represents completing an important accomplishment.
  • Purple also stands for creativity and individuality. Graduates can now express themselves fully as they move forward in life.
  • Darker purple shades evoke luxury and elegance. Graduates should feel proud of their hard-earned diploma.
  • Light purple has connections to nostalgia and imagination. Graduates can fondly reminisce even as they dream big for the future.
  • Purple has spiritual connotations with enlightenment and inner calm. It's an uplifting color for grads ready for what's next.
  • Royalty, nobility and prestige are linked to the color purple. Graduates deserve to feel proud and celebrated on their big day.

The Meaning Behind Purple Orchids

One of the most lavish flowers used in purple graduation leis are purple orchids. Orchids in general stand for strength, love, luxury and beauty. Purple orchids have some additional symbolic associations that make them ideal for graduation:

  • Wisdom and enlightenment - Graduates have accomplished much in their academic journey.
  • Admiration and respect - Orchids praise the hard work graduates put into earning their degree.
  • Maturity and thoughtfulness - Graduates are ready to take on adult responsibilities.
  • Individuality - Purple orchids praise graduates for their unique talents.
  • Deserving of more - Orchids encourage grads to continue pursuing their dreams.
  • New beginnings - Purple orchids celebrate the start of grads' future.

Crafting Purple Orchid Leis

Creating purple leis with orchids is a gorgeous way to honor graduates. Here are some tips for assembling eye-catching purple orchid leis yourself:

  • Select vivid purple phalaenopsis orchids for maximum visual impact. Choose orchids with uniform color for consistency.
  • Use orchids with 2-3 blooms per stem for fullness. The more blossoms, the lusher the lei.
  • Gather 20-25 orchid stems for an average sized graduation lei. More can be used for extra long leis.
  • Cut the orchid stems to 6 inches long and remove excess foliage for clean look.
  • Use 1/8 inch wide purple satin ribbon to match the orchids. Wider ribbon works for bold statement.
  • Tie the ribbon into a circle then secure orchids by tying ribbon around each stem.
  • Work in a spiral pattern, distributing orchids evenly around the lei for balanced fullness.
  • Tie ribbon into a bow or neat knot at the back of the lei once all orchids are secured.

Meaningful Purple Florals for Graduation Leis

Along with orchids, adding other purple flowers can create an even more stunning and symbolic graduation lei. Here are some top picks:

  • Lilacs - Representing confidence and pride for graduates.
  • Lavender - For luck, devotion and clarity moving forward.
  • Carnations - Signify distinction, beauty and fascination with the future.
  • Roses - Convey love, appreciation and sophistication.
  • Dahlias - Stand for elegance, inner strength and growth.
  • Irises - Symbolize wisdom, cherished friendship and hope.
  • Hydrangeas- For perseverance, heartfelt emotions and gratitude.

Mix different purple flowers for added meaning and visual interest in the lei. Just be sure to select blooms that are in season for freshness.

Crafting Graduation Leis with Purple Ribbons

For a simpler lei that's still full of meaning, ribbons in purple hues can make a beautiful statement. Here are some tips for graduation leis using purple ribbons:

  • Stick to satin or grosgrain for a smooth drape. Chiffon works for a delicate, airy look.
  • Incorporate different purple shades like lilac, wisteria, plum and violet for depth.
  • Fold ribbons lengthwise and cut into 1.5-2 inch strips for manageable sizes.
  • Use a needle to thread ribbon strips into a continuous circle, knotting strips together.
  • Add length as needed until the lei reaches desired fullness and length.
  • Finish the ends by knotting them together or into a decorative bow.
  • For extra flair, intersperse ribbon knots with small silk flowers.

Ribbon leis are easy to make in quantity for big graduating classes. The purple hues match any graduation gown for a cohesive celebratory look.

Giving Leis at Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation leis are beautiful accessories that add Hawaiian flair to commencement ceremonies across the world. Whether elaborate orchid leis or simpler ribbon styles, they have deep cultural significance. Here are some tips for giving leis at graduations:

  • Drape the lei over the graduate's head from behind for the element of surprise before they turn around.
  • Help adjust the lei so the bow is centered and the blooms frame the neck and shoulders nicely.
  • Wrap the graduate in a warm embrace after gifting the lei to convey your pride.
  • Pose for pictures with the newly lei'd graduate to memorialize the moment.
  • After the ceremony, encourage the graduate to hang the lei somewhere visible as a reminder of achieving their dreams.

The experience of receiving leis at graduation will create lifelong memories for students. The burst of color against their gowns makes for fantastic photos too.

Celebrating Graduates with Purple Lei Traditions

Graduation is a milestone worthy of celebration and few accessories convey that more beautifully than leis in purple hues. With their rich symbolic meanings, purple leis complement graduations across all cultures. Gift orchid leis or craft ribbon styles to create a memorable tradition honoring the graduates in your life. The purple colors will remind them always to follow their dreams.


Why are purple leis significant for graduations?

Purple is a color associated with accomplishment, creativity, wisdom, spirituality and nobility. It perfectly captures the meaning of graduation and praise for the graduate's achievements.

What purple flowers can I use to make graduation leis?

Some top purple blooms are orchids, lilacs, lavender, carnations, roses, dahlias, irises and hydrangeas. Mix varieties for added meaning and visual appeal.

How many orchids do I need for a graduation lei?

For an average sized graduation lei, use 20-25 orchid stems with 2-3 blooms each. More can be added for very full, long leis.

Can I make a purple graduation lei without real flowers?

Yes, beautiful leis can be made using only purple satin or grosgrain ribbons in different shades. Simply tie and knot the ribbons together into a circular lei shape.

When's the best time during graduation to give a lei?

Drape the lei over the graduate's head from behind after they receive their diploma for a fun surprise. Pose for pictures afterward to commemorate the moment.

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