Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday

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Palm Sunday is a Christian feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday, otherwise known as Flowery or Willow, was established in memory of Jesus Christ’s solemn entry into Jerusalem. In some Silesian houses, there is still a habit of making a palm tree with their own hands. It most often consists of seven (or more) twigs of different plants, symbolizing the seven sorrows suffered by our Lady under the cross of Jesus.

The Holy Week heralded the end of Lent. Before the coming of Holy Week, people clean the house and windows, do the laundry, etc. This symbolized the farewell of winter and diseases. Farmers carried out some field and farm work. 

However, all the works have to be completed before Maundy Thursday. On Holy Week, especially Good Friday, which is the most important holiday for evangelicals in the Church year, people cannot speak loudly, laugh or listen to loud music. In the past, during the Holy Week, there was an order to observe silence, even clocks were stopped, and some were obstructing mirrors and dressing mournfully.

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Palm Sunday is a Christian feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday, otherwise known as Flowery or Willow, was established in memory of Jesus Christ’s solemn entry into Jerusalem.

As the Catholic tradition predicts on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, a palm tree is taken to the church to hallow it.

Although today’s believers are more likely to carry a purchased palm tree, made of colourful, dried grasses, cereals and flowers, in some Silesian houses there is still a habit of making a palm tree with their own hands. 

What does the Silesian palm look like? 

It most often consists of seven (or more) twigs of different plants, symbolizing the seven sorrows suffered by our Lady under the cross of Jesus. Green and freshly blossomed twigs guarantee the rebirth of life. Some of them are herbaceous plants with medicinal or cleansing properties, f.ex.: 

– Siba called also the red willow, as a symbol of shed blood,

– Kokocz known as European bladdernut or Southern lye symbolises the rooster, whose voice reminded Peter of the prophecy “his very night before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Kokocz, otherwise known as the rosary shrub or fathers’ shrub, was considered a sacred plant. From its seeds, rosaries were made, which after death were put into the coffins of the owners. 

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In pre-Christian times, there was a belief that it had magical power with protective properties. It was believed that evil forces were afraid of this plant and ran away from it, which is why it was planted most often on the corner of the garden, sometimes also next to chapels. Characteristic is the sound made by ripe grains in a bag in the wind. Moreover, the name ‘kłokoczka,’ came from the sound of a specific kind of rattling. Kokocz naturally occurred rarely, only in southern Poland, today it is also cultivated. Its white flowers have a pleasant smell.

– Świyntojonka – ribes in memory of St. John the Apostle

– Wieprzki – gooseberries, where piki (spikes) symbolizes the crown-of-thorns

Other plants are flider (lilac or elder tree), viburnum, lyska (filbert), wahold (juniper), cześnia (cherry tree), and kocianki (also called catkin or pussy willow), and boxwood. 

Some Silesians still practice, after returning from the church on Palm Sunday, the habit of swallowing catkins from a sacred palm tree. According to popular beliefs, this is to protect against sore throat and indigestion after abundant Easter food. Another custom is to hit with the sacred palm the households three times in the back, which is to provide a healthy and strong spine.

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