Palm Sunday 2023: when it is celebrated, traditions and history

Yulia LoseynkoLife
On this day, the Church celebrates the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem

A week before Easter, Christians celebrate one of their 12 greatest feasts, the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. It is popularly called Palm Sunday. It is a bright and joyful holiday. For the Orthodox, this year it falls on April 9.

OBOZREVATEL explains the origins of Palm Sunday. And also about the traditions and customs associated with it among Ukrainians.

How did the Palm Sunday holiday appear?

According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ arrived in Roman-occupied Jerusalem a week before Easter. Meanwhile, the Jews were waiting for the appearance of a liberator, and the arrival of Jesus, whose fame far outstripped his own, was taken as a good omen.

Christ rode into the city on a donkey, and people threw flowers and palm branches at his feet as a sign of honor. That is why in many countries of the world this day is called Palm Sunday.

Why is the willow the symbol of the holiday in Ukraine?

Since palm trees do not grow in our country, the local willow became the symbol of the holiday. It is on the eve of Easter that it begins to bloom and turn green. And this goes back to the symbolism of Easter as a holiday of rebirth, a return to life.

In addition, this tree has been considered magical since pagan times. It is credited with the ability to drive away evil spirits. It also purifies water in wells and removes the burden of sins from the human soul.

Palm Sunday traditions

Since the holiday is one of the 12 biggest in the Christian calendar, it has acquired a lot of traditions. One of the main ones is the easing of the fast on this day. On Palm Sunday, believers are allowed to eat fish and seafood, as well as drink a glass of wine.

Willow branches blessed in church were carried home. Along the way, they waved them toward the clouds to disperse them and call for spring. The branches were laid out not only in the house but also in all outbuildings, especially those where animals were kept. It was believed that they would be protected from diseases.

It was believed that with a blessed twig, one should lightly beat all one's relatives and friends on the shoulders, saying:

"You are beaten not by me but by the willow. Easter is coming in a week. Soon you will have a red egg."

Another version of the saying contained a direct wish for health and was more often used during the ritual with children and teenagers:

"Be as big as the willow, healthy as water, rich as the earth."

The branches that were carried to church on Sunday were gathered the day before, before Lazarus' Saturday. They would go in search at dawn. The tree had to be young and healthy, without damage.

The old folk omens

On Palm Sunday, people predicted the weather shortly. Among the signs were the following:

  • on this day, the memory of frost is honored.
  • a sunny, windless day was considered a sign of a warm summer;
  • a strong wind promised frequent weather changes in summer;
  • rain on the holiday was perceived as a fruitful year.

Prohibitions on Palm Sunday

Like any major holiday, Palm Sunday was associated with a number of prohibitions. First of all, hard labor was not allowed - at home or in the field.

Women were forbidden to do needlework and various everyday tasks. They were not even allowed to comb their hair.

Food for the whole family for the holiday had to be prepared in the evening. Even simple tasks could cause disaster.

It was also forbidden to quarrel, swear, gossip, etc.

Prayer for Palm Sunday

It is believed that on this day it is good to ask God for the protection of children. There is a special prayer for this.

Almighty God, I entrust my children to Your mighty care and protection. Protect them, O Lord, from anything that could harm their health or put them in danger of death. But above all, I pray to You, most dear Father, to protect them from the dangers that threaten their souls.

Turn away from my children, O God, by Your almighty hand, all that may have an evil influence on their innocent hearts or become an opportunity for them to do evil. Keep my children from sin, O God! Send, I beg You, Your holy angels to watch over them on the road of life.

Almighty God and Father, guide my children safely through all earthly dangers and storms and let them reach the harbor of salvation safely. Amen.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told whether there would be an additional day off for Easter in 2023.

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