Happy Easter to all of you that celebrate Easter today!
In the orthodox religion Easter is next week Sunday. Today however we celebrate “Palm Day” or Flowers Day. This was initially dedicated to the Roman goddess Flora, but then it was celebrated in the memory of the Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem. This day is the celebration of the nature revival, when the willows, the fruit trees and the flowers bloom. The willow plays a very important role in the rituals. All the ladies that have names of flowers are celebrated as well.
The legend goes that, while Jesus was crucified, His mother left, crying, in the search of her son, wearing iron boots and a steel rod. On her journey she arrived at a river and asked a willow to help her cross it. As the willow made a bridge for her, Mary put a blessing on it, stating that its wood could not be transformed into coal and that its branches would be taken to church every year. That is why, on this day people bring flowers and willow branches to the church, for being sanctified by the priest. With the willow branches, symbol of spring and fertility, cows and little children are touched, in order to grow and bloom as the willow. The holy branches are then placed near the icons or above the door and are used throughout the year as a medicine or for protection against the natural disasters. It is also believed that the people who wear the willow branches as a belt will not suffer of loin aches; who eats three catkins will not suffer of throat aches.
The willow is also used in commercial purposes – before taking the animals to the market for selling, they must be touched with the willow branches, to please the buyers.
Another use of the catkins is for protection against the storms and hail. In the summer, when the weather is bad, catkins are placed on the fire, so that the resulting smoke would drive away lightning and thunders.
Anybody who swallows a sanctified catkin will be healthy and light as the willow flowers.
People must not work on this day and the table must remain laid all the time. Even it is fast, fish may be eaten.
It is also a day for commemorating the dead, when the burial places are cleaned and willow branches are put above.
As it is believed the nettles begin to bloom, they aren’t used as food anymore, this being called the “nettle’s wedding”. The nettles, eaten especially during the fast, are considered a very healthy food. In some regions, “nettle’s wedding” is on Annunciation day or on the Thursday before the Easter.
It is said that if the frogs can be heard until this day, the next summer will be beautiful. The weather on the Easter will be similar to the one from this day.
Today in Medgidia, my home town the weather is not very nice, no sun but warm so hopefully it will stay warm for Easter too.