Polish Easter: Palm Sunday

Last Sunday before Easter very special in Polish culture. While in Poland, you will notice hundreds of people rushing to a church nearby, holding colorful long-shaped bouquets. What is this all about?

Fot. Cezary Aszkiełowicz / AG
Palm Sunday begins the Easter week in Poland. It reminds us about the time, when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and hundreds of people welcomed him with palm leaves. The climate difference didn't stop creative Poles - that's why our "Easter palms" - palmy wielkanocne - are made of willow with catkins, box,  forsythia, colored cereal ears and paper flowers.

The tradition of Palm Sunday is known in Poland since the Middle Ages. Earlier willow with catkins was used in many pagan rituals, that's why Catholic church decided to adapt the custom for its needs and nowadays it's one of the symbols of the Resurrection.

 To this day there are many folk believes regarding blessed Easter palms:
  • blessed palm protects people, animals, houses and fields from fire, magic and evil
  • swallowing a blessed catkin cure any throat infection
  • smashing child with a willow will protect it from any illness
  • cross made of willow will protect house from a lightning strike
  • mixing catkins with seeds assures fertility
  • the bigger the palm - the healthier the family
Speaking about size - average palm measures from 15 to 40 centimeters. However, many Polish cities organize a palm contest. In 2001 a new record was set in Lipnica Murowana, with a palm higher than 36 meters! Here is a footage from last years contest - you can observe the preparation process and then the contest itself. It's not as easy as you may think!

The you celebrate Palm Sunday in your country? Let me know!