Palm Sunday in Russia

  • access_time18 April, 2011

Palm Sunday = Willow (Verba) Sunday in Russia!

Yesterday Christians around the world celebrated Palm Sunday, the last Sunday before Easter, celebrating the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. This year the date of Palm Sunday coincides with the Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestant denominations.

In Russia, this holiday is called Willow Sunday, Verba in russian. Since palms don't grow in Russia, except for maybe some areas in the extreme south of Russia, the willow is used instead. Furthermore, around this time of year the willow starts to bloom, therefore in the Russian Orthodox Church people bring willow branches with fluffy velvet-like buds to church.

Palm Sunday is a very old holiday in the church, dating back to the 4th century A.D. when it was celebrated in Jerusalem. Since the holiday is so old, accordingly the traditions surround it vary from different denominations. The Russian Orthodox Church, for example, uses willow branches instead of palm, olive, or laurel branches, which are also commonly used.

Leading up to Palm Sunday you can see people on every street corner selling willow branches in preparation of the holiday. In Russia, it is believed that after being blessed in church, the willow branches receive healing power. It is also a popular believe that if you eat nine blessed willow buds you will be healed from sickness, whatever it may be.