If you saw people on the street with willow branches in their hands, it means that a holiday called Palm Sunday will come soon. The history of the origin of the holiday is unusually interesting and shrouded in legends. In this article, we will lift the veil of secrecy and tell you where this day and the traditions associated with it came from.
Steps into the past
So, Palm Sunday… The history of the holiday has two versions of its origin. One of them is Christian. It says that it was on this day that Jesus Christ rode a donkey for the first time entered the city of Jerusalem. How did it all start?
…In the year 30 AD, the far and near neighborhoods of the city of Jerusalem stirred up a rumor about a certain wanderer who works such miracles as healing the terminally ill and even resurrecting the dead!
It was said that the blind begin to see again, and the lepers regain he althy skin. And the most discussed incredible event is the resurrection of a certain Lazarus, who died four days ago, but came out of the crypt alive and unharmed. Of course, all these miracles were performed by Jesus, who was called by the people the Savior and the Messiah.
The Son of God inin the shortest possible time, a huge number of followers and students appear who carry a good rumor about their Teacher. Ordinary people see their bright future in Jesus, and most importantly, freedom from the Roman enslavers.
However, for obvious reasons, the authorities of Jerusalem did not share the anticipation of happiness and joyful expectations - and no wonder. The appearance of the Messiah would shake, if not completely destroy the order convenient for them.
Riding a donkey
And then came the day that the rulers of Jerusalem so feared - Jesus decided to visit the capital of Judea. At the same time, the Savior, who usually moved on foot, suddenly asked his followers to bring him from the nearest settlement a young donkey, on which not a single person sat down. When the request of Jesus was fulfilled, his clothes were laid on the donkey, replacing them with a saddle, and the Savior headed for the main gate of Jerusalem.
According to those times and traditions, entering on a donkey through the gates of the city spoke of peace and exceptionally good intentions of the arrival, while a guest who arrived on a horse symbolized the beginning of the war. That is why the Son of God chose the donkey - in this way he wanted to show that he came in peace and without malicious intent.
It was a triumphant entry! The jubilant people, not hiding their joy, covered the path of the Savior with palm leaves and their clothes, thus showing their boundless love and the highest respect for the Son of God. Behind the donkey, carrying the Messiah on its back, children, girls and women ran, waving palm branches, symbolizing the highest honors. So Palm Sunday(the history of the holiday is connected not only with religion, but also (indirectly) with the geographical location and climate of Israel, which is why it is also called Palm Sunday) means the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, for God the Father himself visited the city in his Son. The holiday itself is a symbol of the fact that the Israeli people believed in Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah, the Savior, whose calling is to make the world better, kinder and more harmonious.
Alas, after only four days, the same jubilant people will frantically demand from Pontius Pilate to cruelly crucify the one whom they themselves called the Messiah and Savior of the human race.
Palms and willows
Most likely, the reader will have a question: if the path of the Son of God was covered with palm leaves, why is this holiday called Palm Sunday in Russia? The history of the holiday says that this is due to the fact that palm trees have never grown in Russia, while the Palestinian climate is unsuitable for willow, which is dear to Russian people. Therefore, the Orthodox Church decided to change the plant symbolizing Palm Sunday. The history of the holiday, the Orthodox version of which is relevant today, suggests using willow branches from another, pagan rite that existed in Russia in pre-Christian times instead of palm leaves.
As already mentioned, the history of the Palm Sunday holiday has two versions of its origin. The second of them goes back to pagan times. More precisely, it originates in the ancientSlavic holiday called Verbohlest. What is the connection between Palm Sunday, the history of the holiday, paganism?
The fact is that Willowlash is a feast of fertilization. In paganism, close relationships between a man and a woman were not considered a sin, but quite the contrary - they were perceived as a manifestation of the Divine act, as a result of which children appeared. Strong warriors, hardworking plowmen, future mothers and keepers of the hearth, healers and teachers grew up from children. In a word, the more children there were, the more chances the people had for a prosperous life.
A fun custom
There was an interesting custom in the Verbohlest holiday - the young men whipped the girls' legs with willow twigs, and they, in turn, laughed out loud and deliberately squealed. This rite symbolized the act of fertilization. They did the same with livestock - after all, the larger the livestock, the more satisfying life will be.
Why a willow and not a plum or, for example, an apple tree? The fact is that for our ancestors, willow was a symbol of rapid growth, mighty strength, the will to live and, of course, fertility. And no wonder - it is the willow that buds and blooms first among all plants.
When Christianity appeared in Russia, pagan idols were rejected and eventually forgotten. Nevertheless, the history of Palm Sunday involuntarily brings us back to those distant times.
The fact that it was with Verbokhlyost that the story beganPalm Sunday, indicates that in other countries, for example, in Slovakia, where the traditions of ancestors are honored, this custom is still alive. There, even today, guys without any religious background recklessly lash young ladies with willow branches and even douse them with water!
Holiday without a date
When exactly is Palm Sunday celebrated? The history of the holiday is directly related to the Easter holiday, and is celebrated a week before its onset, immediately after Holy Week. Since Easter also occurs on a different day each time, Palm Sunday also falls on different dates.
Power of willow
On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, an all-night vigil is held in all Orthodox churches, during which the priests sprinkle them with holy water, consecrating the willow and giving it magical properties.
For example, she protects the house from thunderstorms and fires, all its inhabitants - from evil spirits, and willow buds cure many diseases. That is why the willow brought from the church is placed at the head of the bed on which the ill person lies, and the children are lightly whipped with shoots so that they grow up he althy and strong. In addition, it is customary to bathe small children in a decoction of consecrated willow branches so that they are he althy. It is also believed that willow buds help overcome infertility, so many desperate women who dream of a child eat them and pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
All Orthodox beforeEaster strictly observes Great Lent. Especially severe in this regard are the days of Holy Week, when true believers severely restrict themselves in food. Nevertheless, on Palm Sunday, everyone can treat themselves to an indulgence and pamper their body with fish, washed down with wine.
And a long time ago in Russia, for the celebration of Palm Sunday, they baked buckwheat pancakes, cooked mash and prepared fish pies. In addition, there was an interesting custom to bake holiday bread - as many pieces as there are people in the family. A coin was hidden in one of the loaves, and the one who got this treat with a surprise was literally doomed to happiness, he alth and good luck for 12 months.
Fairy tales for children
Try telling the kids about Palm Sunday. The history of the holiday for children, of course, must be adapted to their perception and accessible to the understanding of little Orthodox. Show the children beautiful willow twigs, let them touch, smell, hold in their hands. Tell us that the willow blossoms the very first of all trees and brings spring into the world. After that, you can tell the guys about Palm Sunday. The history of the holiday (photos, drawings and pictures are also desirable to use) by young listeners will be perceived as a fairy tale. You can even act out skits. Don't forget to mention why we have willow trees instead of palm fronds, along with talking about the climate of Palestine.