Legends and myths are used around the world to explain the natural world, often in combination with the spiritual one, and Hawaii is no exception! In honor of Valentine's Day, we want to share the Hawaiian legend of love, "The Ohi'a Tree and the Lehua Blossom." This enchanting tale is about the creation of a flowering tree found only on Hawaii islands. While there are many versions of the legend with slight differences, the core of the story follows two young lovers and a jealous goddess of fire:
There once was a handsome hunter named Ohi’a who attended a dance in his village. While there, he saw a beautiful woman across the fire, and when their eyes met, they immediately fell in love. Now, Lehua's father was incredibly protective over her, as fathers generally tend to be, especially towards their only child. However, when he saw the look of love in their eyes, he knew he needed to introduce Ohi’a to Lehua. Soon after, the two lovers married and built a house near the forest where they loved to walk.
One day, Pele, the goddess of fire, was walking through the forest near the couple’s home and laid eyes on Ohi’a. Pele fell in love and changed her appearance into a woman so she could attract the handsome Ohi'a's attention. She approached him several times when he was alone, each time increasing her beauty, but Ohi'a always told her that his heart belonged to Lehua.
One day Pele revealed her true self and power to the couple, and gave Ohi'a one more chance to leave Lehua and join her instead. When Ohi'a declined again, and Pele saw the happy couple look lovingly at each other, the goddess's jealousy turned to rage. She struck Ohi’a down and transformed him into an ugly, twisted tree. Lehua wept and begged for Pele to change him back, but the goddess refused.
Lehua went to the other gods and begged them to change Ohi'a back to a human. They took pity on her, angered by Pele's actions, but despite their efforts could not break the curse. Instead, they transformed Lehua into a beautiful red flower and placed her upon the twisted Ohi’a tree so that the couple would never be apart again. To this day, it is said that if you separate the lovers by plucking a flower off a Ohi'a tree, Lehua's tears will fall as rain.
So next time you want to tell that special someone how you feel, say it Hawaii Style: