Palm Sunday is Pussy Willow Sunday!

Posted by Les Ellison  ·  Be the first to comment

It’s all about the donkey, children shouting ‘Hosanna’, processing around the church and going home with a woven palm cross. In most churches of most denominations that is Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent and the traditional day for celebrating the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Palm leaves blessed, paraded, waved and taken home as a memento and a witness. That's Palm Sunday, the start of the road and a train of thought that leads  to the upper room, the garden, the cross and the empty tomb. Familiar stories with familiar symbols all rich with tradition and meaning.

From palms to ashes

After a year displayed or forgotten about the house, many palm crosses will return to church next year to be burned and reformed on the forehead of the faithful as another Ash Wednesday begins another Lenten cycle.

That’s the tradition in most UK churches today, but it wasn’t always the custom even in this country, and isn’t what happens in some others around the world. For one thing, palms aren’t naturally available in most of northern Europe or countries with less than Mediterranean climates.

Symbols and substitutes

Also known as Yew Sunday, Branch Sunday and Flower Sunday, the local name reflects the palm substitutes where the Bible's original just isn’t available. In Latvia, the Sixth in Lent is Pussy Willow Sunday. In the absence of palms, children gather these symbols of new life for blessing and parading in church.

In India, flowers are strewn about the church sanctuary in a cross-over tradition that absorbs features of Hindu and ancient pre-Christian customs. Some countries substitute olive branches while in Poland villages compete to build the tallest artificial palms; the biggest rising above 30 meters in height.

Witness and Connection

Palm crosses distributed in UK churches and schools usually provide more than a traditional witness and symbolic connection with the Easter story. Made from locally sourced palm leaves, most are hand plaited by villagers in developing nations as a vital source of income for communities dependant on meagre natural, financial and educational resources.

Eden.co.uk’s Easter palm crosses are entirely sourced from villages in one exceptionally poor area of Southern Tanzania. Harvested from local palm trees, African palm crosses are hand woven by the men, women and children of the Masasi region.

Safe and Sustainable

Weaving the strips of locally grown palm, the Masasi villagers turn an ancient handicraft into an opportunity to invest in the future health, education and conservation of their village. Through the distribution network, ‘African Palms’, proceeds from Masasi palm crosses are re-invested to meet the basic needs and services that their customers take for granted.

Looking forward to next year’s Ash Wednesday, Masasi African palm crosses are hand woven without chemical treatment of the trees or palm leaves. The absence of chemicals protects the Masasi environment and makes the ashes of African palm crosses safe to use when signing the cross that begins another Lenten journey.

In packs of 50 and 100, Eden.co.uk African palm crosses offer you an opportunity to make the difference in basic health and education provision for one of Africa’s most deprived and poverty hit districts.

Quick Guide to African Palm Crosses from Eden.co.uk

What are they?

  • Elegant, traditional Palm Sunday crosses hand woven, naturally grown and chemical free.
  • Harvested woven and distributed to support self-help programmes in health and education.
  • Connection the Masasi villagers in one of the poorest regions of Southern Tanzania.

What will they do for me?

  • Give you ethical, safe and sustainable Palm Crosses your church or school can be proud of.
  • Give you an opportunity to help the Masasi villagers invest in their own independent future.
  • Give your church or school an opportunity to share in a Christian tradition with a wider witness.

Over to You

At Eden.co.uk you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.

African Palm crosses are both a tradition and an opportunity to make a witness and support the health, education and environment of Christians in developing countries.

  • What are your Palm Sunday traditions, do you parade your palm crosses and what do you do with yours afterwards?
  • Do your church or school know where their palm crosses come from, are they proud of their crosses give the Masasi?

Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips – beautiful, bizarre and brilliant at Eden.co.uk

24th February

February 24th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison

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