Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Him by laying palm branches (a symbol of victory) along the street and singing songs of joy.
Less than a week later, He would be crucified.
Christians the world over continue to celebrate Palm Sunday, with church-goers receiving blessed palms.
But what can you do with a palm leaf once Palm Sunday is over? I mean, you can’t just throw it away because it’s a “sacramental” and reminds us of Christ’s resurrection. It also points to the multitude of saints in Heaven “wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” (Rev. 7:9)
Traditionally, some people return home with their palms and place them behind a crucifix or a religious picture. I’m told that farmers often bury them in the corners of their fields. Many parishes re-collect the dried palms before Ash Wednesday and burn them, using the ashes for that liturgy.
Another custom, particularly among Italian and Polish peoples, involves palm-weaving.
To weave palms, you take the frond (leaf) and transform it into a new shape by bending, cutting, and folding. Some of the more popular shapes include crosses, crowns of thorns, roses, and various animals, including fish.
Perhaps because the Palm Sunday readings are longer than those on other Sundays, I usually find myself weaving a cross out of my palm. I assumed some of my Italian forebears did likewise, but when I asked Mom which of her relatives passed this custom down, she didn’t remember any of them doing that.
As I thought about it longer, I realized the first time I made a palm cross was when Domer was little. An older woman sitting nearby was calmly folding and bending her palm frond into a beautiful shape, and Domer was fascinated.
Quiet, too, which is saying something for a small child in a long church service!
Anyway, Domer watched this weaving and promptly mimicked it with his own palm leaf. He silently walked me through the process, which, by the way, is easier than it looks online.
We still weave our palm fronds into crosses, but some of those other patterns look interesting. Do you weave palms, too?