Pussy Willows and Easter

IMG_0002My friend Maria Hayda, who has family from Ukraine, wrote: “Lisa, pussy willow is what we use for our Easters :) since Eastern Europe is unable to grow palm trees… My Grandmother had a huge bouquet she saved thru the decades. Now I’ve started my own bouquet.”

According to Wikipedia, “The flowering shoots of pussy willow are used both in Europe and America for spring religious decoration on Palm Sunday, as a replacement for palm branches, which do not grow that far north… Sometimes, on Palm Sunday they will bless both palms and pussy willows in church. The branches will often be preserved throughout the year.”

 

Thanks for sharing Maria!  -Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 8:14 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Easter, Finland, Photos, Poland, Symbolism of Flowers, Symbols, Ukraine. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Pussy Willows and Easter”

  1. Mary Vaughn Says:

    Cultural anthopologists agree the reason pussy willows are used is not that palms do not grow in Ukraine (after all, then palms would not be used in many parts of Europe), and besides, Ukraine being located on the Black Sea would have more easily been able to import palm leaves if that was the tradition. The reason pussy willows are used according to the experts is because the Bible says branches and flowers were used to line the path as Jesus rode on the donkey into Jerusalem on what is called Palm Sunday. Pussy willows are the earliest sign of flowering branches and so were appropriate to use for that holiday called Willow Sunday in Ukraine.

    Another website (http://www.pysanky.info/Ukrainian_Easter/Traditions.html) notes that pussy willows are the first sign of new life in the spring, and pagans may have used them in their pagan rituals. This also may have, as was common in many areas when Christianity became the norm, why a local pagan custom was converted to have meaning connected to what happened in the Gospel.

    Wikipedia reports that many other areas use pussy willows also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_willow – including Ukraine, Poland, Czech, Slovak, Bavarian and Austrian Catholics; Finnish and Baltic Lutherans and Orthodox. Wikipedia also says some in Italy and Malta use small olive branches instead of palms. Lithuanians may use small well formed branches to which flowers are attached. And there are other areas that also incorporate flowers into the Palm Sunday ceremonies.

    When traditions go back hundreds of years, the true reason why it may be different in other regions is often lost, and people think of what might be the reason, but to assume it is simply because “palms do not grow there” is not correct since trade has always allowed items to travel far from the source, if it is wanted.

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