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Palm Sunday

Written by Anne Newman 11th April 2019 - updated 5th April 2020

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter and begins the Holy Week and commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.

According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ rode a donkey into Jerusalem and the day is called 'PalmSunday' because the people of Jerusalem threw palm leaves to the floor as a greeting when he arrived.

In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. They were often depicted on coins and important buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple. Back in 5BC-AD33, palm leaves and branches were a sign of homage and thrown before people of great respect.

The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, unlike the horse which is the animal of war.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey as a symbol of peace – whereas if he had strode in on a horse, often used in battle, he could have been seen as a warmonger.

It is customary in many churches for worshippers to receive fresh palm leaves on Palm Sunday. The extra blessed palms are then saved in the church to be burned on ShroveTuesday, the following year, to make the ashes used in Ash Wednesday service.

In Ireland yew leaves are blessed instead of palm leaves and everyone takes home some of the blessed yew.

One year a friend, who had lived in America, gave me a Palm Sunday Cross made of woven palm leaves. I had never seen them before.

The palm cross is a symbol of Christ's death on the cross, but serves another purpose. It is said to have a palm leaf or palm cross in the house will help protect against house fires.

Here is a video on how to make one:

The Schools Collection shares information from Kilkenny

Quote from the piece:

On Palm Sunday, palm is blessed in all the churches and distributed to the people during the masses by the altar-boys. Everybody is anxious to get a piece of it which he reverently kisses on receipt thereof. The palm is really a branch of the yew tree.

This is the yew on the entrance to An Tobar - A Retreat Centre, Navan, Co Meath, founded in 1983 to provide a serene and secure place to meet and find sanctuary in a complex world. An Tobar gallery

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I found some other Palm Sunday Customs from around the world:

In the 15th to 17th centuries in England, Palm Sunday was frequently marked by the burning of Jack 'o' Lent figures. This was a straw effigy which would be stoned and abused on Ash Wednesday, and kept in the parish for burning on Palm Sunday. The symbolism was believed to be a kind of revenge on Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Christ. The effigy could also have represented the hated figure of Winter, whose destruction prepares the way for Spring.

Jack o' Lent is mentioned in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor.

ROBIN - My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door, Mistress Ford, and requests your company.
MISTRESS PAGE - You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?
ROBIN - Ay, I'll be sworn. My master knows not of your being here and hath threatened to put me into everlasting liberty if I tell you of it; for he swears he'll turn me away.
MISTRESS PAGE -Thou'rt a good boy: this secrecy of thine shall be a tailor to thee and shall make thee a new doublet and hose. I'll go hide me.
MISTRESS FORD - Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.

In Latvia, Palm Sundayis called "Pussy Willow Sunday", and pussy willows – symbolizing new life – are blessed and distributed to the faithful. Children are often awakened that morning with ritualistic swats of a willow branch!

In Finland it is popular for children to dress up as Easter witches and go door to door in neighbourhoods and trade decorated pussywillow branches for coins and candy.

This is an old Kareliancustom called virpominen. It is customary for the children to chant,with some variation,

"Virvon varvon tuoreeks, terveeks, tulevaksvuodeks, vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!"

which translates as

"I'm wishing you a fresh, healthy up coming year, a branch for you, a prize for me!"

The chant has been translated in JuhaVuorinen's novel Totally Smashed! as

"Willow switch, I'm the Easter witch! I wish you health and a love that's rich! From me I bring some luck today, for this branch what will you pay."

Palm Sunday 5th April 2020

Reflection from Nora J:

With the situation of this Covid-19 pandemic so many things have returned to how I remember life being in my childhood. The main effect is that we can only go a short distance from our homes. This is like a lost year in our lives, and yet a year we found ourselves.

In western Europe (and some other places) we have been a blessed generation, being able to visit far away places and to share in their culture and wisdom. Local elders and leaders around the world started revealing and explaining their mysteries, local religions and beliefs of how we can interract with the earth and all beings to the benefit of all. Some shared their most profound ceremonies and rituals, others wrote books and gave workshops.

The insights and understandings of those places we brought back to our homelands and started sharing with others. Many began researching and understanding our own native spirituality. Personally there was a huge upsurge in researching our family history. Looking to our own ancestors and their wealth of insights and wisdom.

With the internet we can keep those global contacts but it seems that wealth of spirituality our generation gained on those travels will expand and enhance the lives of all those that come after us.

Message from Bernadette Mac:

Hi everyone the Angel message today day Sunday 5th of April 2020 is :

Spiritual understanding - Archangel Raziel

I am bringing you esoteric information and symbols and helping you understand spiritual truths.

Your spiritual understanding is rising to another level as you open up to new ways of looking at life.

Keep an open mind and let go of limited thinking and illusions. Pay attention to the signs informations that come to you three times or more.

Notice geometric shapes and symbol in your physical and psychic visions. Note that your increased awareness may shift your relationships and career goals. I will guide you through these changes so your life mirrors in your experiences.

Working with Archangel Raziel.

As The Wizard and Alchemist of the archangel realm, Raziel helps us understand ideas that defy normal logic. He expands and challenges everyday thinking and ways that ultimately have healing effects.

If you hunger for deep spiritual understanding ask this angel to enter into your dreams. Your soul will travel with him to classrooms where he'll help you uncover the truths and secrets. And upon awaking you may not fully remember Raziel teachings yet knowledge is permanently embedded in your subconscious, where it guides you throughout the day.

Love life and gratitude, Bernadette Mac.

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Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.