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Saturday, 19 March 2016

Palm Sunday In Poland

Dearest honey buns,

I hope you are ready for Easter, as it is knocking on our doors more and more heavily. In Poland, Palm Sunday is known as Niedziela Palmowa which marks the beginning of Holy Week known as Kwietna or Wierzbna. Now if you need to learn something about Polish people, is the fact that they are stubborn, proud, nationalistic and they never miss a catholic holiday. They always go to church and ever since they are small, they are tought about the way of life in accordance to the catholic church rules. I love seeing the churches filled here, in Poland, and families going together to celebrate. I surely hope that most of them do it from their heart, not for the need to show off or the need to keep a "tradition"- but from what I see, I must admit I think they go for their heart and conscience. 
Picture taken by our beloved Globtroter Guest House
There are many customs related to the celebration of Easter, and in today's case (actually tomorrow, as that is the day of celebration - 20th March 2016) about the Palm Sunday. If you know not the story from the Bible, on Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as "Passion Sunday," marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday. The Easter celebration, as far as I can see, is more important for Romanian people than for the Polish people. When it comes to Christmas, it is actually the other way around... but let me get back to my story :) 
Women carrying hand-made 'palms' to be blessed in church on Palm Sunday, photo: Marek Maliszewski / Reporter / East News
There is an old custom I have read of but I have never seen performed in Krakow... The people would bring to the church a figure of Jesus Christ riding on a donkey while the spectators were throwing flowers and pussy willow branches - recreating the scene from the Bible. Another, more proeminent and lasting custom is related to the Palms. As the celebration of Palm Sunday is in March and not many flowers are in bloom... Polish people come to their inner creative self and do Palms out of tissue and crepe paper along with other dried flowers and pussy willow. They are unbelievebly colorful and beautiful - eyecatching! Probably that is why, along time, Polish people started having a custom made Palm competition - that's right! Every year, palm competitions take place throughout Poland. Two notable ones are held in Łyse in the Kurpie region, and in the village of Lipnica Murowana, southwest of Krakòw. The village of Łyse holds a contest for the tallest and most beautiful palm. People from all over the region work hard for the forty days of Lent to make their entries. The palms in Lipnica Murowana are so tall, they cannot be carried upright and are transported to the main square or church yard by several men who hoist them up so they stand on end. 
Picture taken 4 years back, in one of my favourite graveyards in Krakow
The contests are very competitive with specific rules - no nails or other metal elements can be used in making the palms, only wood, willow, reeds, green branches and paper flowers are allowed.Wires, ropes and lines from synthetic materials are also forbidden. In order to qualify in the contest, the palm has to stand upright without breaking, it has to be raised with no help from machines (just men in trees guiding it and others on the ground with special long pushing forks), and the creator of the palma must be able encircle its girth with his hands. Read more here! They are usually paraded throughout the cities/towns and they end up in the church, where they are displayed for quite a long time. If you are in Poland during Easter I recommend you to go and see them... they are a sight for sore eyes: tall, beautifully made and colorful as a rainbow, you can see how much work people have put into them. I dare you to contradict me in saying that Polish people lack imagination and talent! :) 
A view of last year's Easter Market - the Palms and the St. Mary Church
Do you have your own Palm ready for tomorrow? If not, I recommend you to come to Krakow and buy some of the lovely & colorful ones that are being sold in the Main Market square, in front of the St. Mary Church (Mariacki Kosciol). I have seen them ready for purchase since the beginning of this month and they could also be a nice gift for the ones back home - if you are just passing through/visiting this lovely city/country ;) I don't know why, but seeing the Palms always puts a smile on my face... it is nice to think that people can chanel their creative energies on something positive and beautiful... if only Palm Sunday would be everyday...

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Colorful Palms

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