One week before Easter, the Orthodox Church celebrates Palm Sunday, this year on April 21, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. According to the Gospel, one day before riding into Jerusalem, Jesus Christ returned Lazarus to life four days after his death. After this miracle, the people who gathered together at the gates of the fortress met Christ with a lot of joy and enthusiasm, priest Vlad Mihăilă, counselor for education at the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church, stated for IPN.
“The Jewish people were waiting for a political Messiah who would have freed the Roman Empire, but Savior Jesus Christ entered the fortress as a savior of the souls of all the people, of all nations. He entered not like a king of those times, on a white horse, but on a donkey, with piety,” stated the priest.
“As the Savior was met by the crowd with shouts of joy, flowers and palm or olive branches, on Palm Sunday the Christians go to the liturgy with willow branches and flowers and in good spirits so as to meet God in secret,” stated priest Vlad Mihăilă.
According to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, the willow branches blessed on Palm Sunday are a symbol of spiritual revival and cleanness gained through prayer, while the flowers symbolize the flowers of faith and virtues.
At the end of the Liturgy, the willow branches and flowers are blessed by priests by prayer and by splashing them with holy water. The Christians taken them home and put them near the icon, keeping them until the Palm Sunday of next year. The priests recommend burning the branches of last year and throwing the ash onto running water.
They say the willow branches blessed on Palm Sunday protect the people from evil. The blessed branches are also put on fruit trees so that these yield well and on beehives to bless the bees. Some people follow the tradition of eating three blessed willow flowers so as to be protected from disease, especially if they suffer often from cold. Elderly people put blessed willow branches around the waist to get rid of thigh pain. The parents also use to symbolically hit the children with a blessed willow branch on Palm Sunday so that they grow up healthy and wise.