Palm Sunday is the popular name of one of the major festivals of Christians. The feast is established in memory of the entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. According to the story, from this event began the suffering of Christ. This event is displayed in the Gospel of Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John.
The date of this holiday varies according to the church calendar. This celebration of the Orthodox calendar falls on the last Sunday of Lent. This holiday precedes the most important Christian holiday Easter and is celebrated exactly one week before it.
According to the Gospel, when Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, the people who witnessed it believed that he was really the Son of God. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people honored him by spreading their cloths on his path and waving palm branches.
But palm trees don’t grow in Ukraine so in the Orthodox tradition, it was replaced by a willow, a plant, which blooms in early spring and symbolizes the beginning of a new life. The willow branches symbolize Palm Sunday for the people of Ukraine. The feast is popularly called Willow Sunday and the whole week is called the Willow Week.
On this day pussy-willow branches are blessed in the church. After Palm Sunday services, it was customary for Ukrainians to tap each other with the blessed pussy willow branches. Tapping of friends with the pussy willow branches was actually a wish for good health, wealth and happiness. The people tap one another with these branches repeating the wish: “Be as tall as the willow, as healthy as the water and as rich as the Earth. Not I am tapping, the willow is tapping. Easter is in a week!”
The blessed willow branches are taken home and kept until the next Easter.