Polish legend of the pussy willow & Palm Sunday

Mar 22, 2013

This weekend marks Palm Sunday on the Christian calendar.  It will begin the final week of the Lenten season that leads to Easter Sunday.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley finds out how the pussy willow is a symbol of a Polish legend on Palm Sunday.


"Pussy willow is the one that tells the rest of the world and all the other flora, and trees and bushes it's time to wake up.  It's the wake up call," said Father Czeslaw Krysa, rector of St. Casimir's Church in Buffalo and director of Worship for the Diocese of Buffalo.

2012 palm & pussy willows: the priest's processional palm, Father Father Czeslaw Krysa
Credit

But with an earlier Easter season and a blast of wintry weather, the pussy willows are not in full bloom.

"The Pussy Willow is also our Easter symbol.  One of the most prominent Easter symbols, because of the fact out of this dry, kind of twig all of a sudden bursts forth this beautiful flower of life, and it is the first bush that blooms," said Father Krysa. 

Christians use Palms as a church symbol of greeting Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem.  But in the Polish tradition, you will also see pussy willow branches on Palm Sunday.

Father Krysa said according to Polish legend, Jesus visited a forest on Palm Sunday, barren by winter conditions, He commanded His angels to gather up pussy willows, with soft, cotton buds, the first blooms of spring.

"This particular, pussy willow tradition, I must say is Slavic nations also use this on Palm Sunday," said Father Krysa.

Father Krysa said in the Polish community Holy week is called the "Great Week" leading to Easter Sunday, which  Christians believe is the resurrection of Christ.  

But the day after Easter pussy willows are put to use one more time during the Polish celebration known as Dyngus Day.  It's a celebration marking the end of 40 days of Lenten sacrifice.