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The parade of Palms

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Palm Sunday procession in Lagos

Easter will soon be here but before its arrival comes Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday tomorrow. This year Easter weekend takes place from Good Friday on March 30 until Easter Monday on April 2.

Celebration of Palm Sunday
To celebrate the occasion, many Christian churches both Catholic and Protestants as well as the Eastern churches distribute palm leaves to congregation members who then carry them in a procession either inside or outside of the church.

Often the palm fronds are knotted or woven into small crosses that can be kept by individual in their homes as a reminder of the lessons of Holy Week, which is a time of reflection for Christians, who use it to remember Jesus’s suffering before his death on the cross and resurrection. In parts of the world were palms don’t grow and not readily available, other native plants are substituted such as olive, willow, box, yew. The Sunday was often named after these substitute trees, as in Yew Sunday, or by general term Branch Sunday.

Easter is a time of celebration for many families and is a holiday steeped in tradition in many countries. Easter festivities begin on Palm Sunday for a period called the Holy week where, those who observe this holiday, attend a week of events that are rich with symbolism that is reflected in the natural world and flowers.

Symbolism of the Palm
In the Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, which strongly influenced Christian tradition, the palm branch was a symbol of goodness, triumph and victory. In ancient times, they were depicted on coins and on important buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple (1kings 6:29). Again at the end of the bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honor Jesus (Revelation 7:9). In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions and was symbol of eternal life.
The palm later was used as a symbol of Christian martyrs and their spiritual victory over death.

Palm Sunday Traditions
Today Christian churches traditionally hold services on Palm Sunday and leaves of palm are often shaped into crosses to symbolize Jesus last hours on the cross. These palm fronds are used in palm weaving which produce beautiful woven symbols from the palm to decorate the Christian homes during the year.

Palm Sunday Altar displays vase full of palm branches devoid of flowers depicting the solemity of the Holy Week.

In churches that observe Ash Wednesday by giving ashes to their members, these palms are saved to be burnt on Shrove Teusday the following year for use in this symbolic ceremony. The Catholic Church consider the blessed palms to be sacramental. In many areas of the world, there are colorful processions with palm fronds to commemorate the journey of Christ to the cross. Processions and other public celebrations continue until Easter Monday the Monday after Easter.

Woven Floral
Palm Sunday as it is aptly named, utilizing palms and branches to decorate and initiate the Holy week. Palms in both ancient and current times, are signs of goodness, well being, and victory and many worshippers use palm branches in church processionals or in ceremonies for the blessings of palms.

The time leading to the Holy week does not require flowers on the church altar, as it is a reminder of the walk to the cross. For Palm Sunday, the altar arrangement can contain palm leaves, branches, also ferns such as Boston ferns, jade, leatherleaf which can look similar to palm leaves and which can be used to symbolize the palms laid on Jesus path. For Good Friday the altar should be left bare to represent the suffering of Christ.

Palms and lush green plants and arrangement are appropriate for those who observe this holiday. Green palms with white accents are the most common for Palm Sunday flower arrangements for example a fragrant green plant like jasmine plant. Palm Sunday has a solemn feel as it is the start of the Holy Week or Passion Week the week before his passion, death and resurrection . In contrast to Easter Sunday colorful floral arrangement with variety of blooms, Palm Sunday is dominated mostly by the palm and restricted to green foliage.

This restriction has given rise to a floral culture of weaving, braiding and manipulation of palm leaves into endless form of decorative objects. Amazing things are woven out of Palm Sunday palms lifting this craft to art. Here are some examples people have made. Maybe they can inspire your creation this year.


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