Willow Sunday – 10th April 2022

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Sunday April 10th. 2022

Вербна Неділя (Willow Sunday)

Willow Sunday marks the beginning of the Easter preparations in Ukraine. In western countries this day is known as Palm Sunday, but instead of palm leaves Ukrainians use pussy willow branches. After the service, it is customary to ‘tap’ one another with the willow branches to encourage good health (and to call to mind Christ’s suffering). This act is accompanied by the phrase:

Буд’ великі як верба, здорові ’як вода, богаті як земля.
Be as healthy as big as a willow, as healthy as water, as rich as the earth.

According to tradition, the willow is then placed in the household until it is later placed in the Easter Basket in preparation for the blessing. In some regions, some of the blessed branches are planted in the garden by the father or eldest son.

In solidarity with our Eastern European Christian brothers and sisters, this year we will wave pussy willow branches at our liturgical commemoration of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. He did not come as a warrior, as people expected the Messiah to be. He rode ‘in majesty’ on a colt, the foal of an ass.

Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, “Why are you untying it?” you shall say this, “The Lord has need of it.”’………
And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As he was drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

Luke 19:28-40
Pussy-willow Sunday – Kyiv 2018