Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

The Palm Tree

Since this is Palm Sunday, 
I thought it would be interesting to read a little about the 
significance of palms.
I found a book on Google Books called 
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible,
edited by David Noel Freeman,
Allen C. Fyers, and Astrid Biles Beck.
There are entries explaining  the Palm Tree and Palm Sunday.

photo courtesy of

The Palm Tree referred to in the Judeo-Christian bible is a tall date palm, 
phoenix dactylifera, and is said to symbolize 
"grandeur and steadfastness."
Well before the association with Jesus and later Holy Week observances,
 palm tree fronds and branches figured prominently in celebrations
like the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
In Egyptian culture, the palm branch symbolized eternal life.
And the Dictionary says that following the Maccabean Revolt,
palm branches were used for ritually sweeping out and purifying the temple 
after its defilement by the Seleucid Army.

A palm branch in a Roman mosaic,
image from "Palm Branch" search,

The palm's association with steadfastness and immortality 
appears to be well placed.
I read on that a Judean date palm seed 
was successfully sprouted after more than 2,000 years of "accidental storage."
That's a long life.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday fronds,
photo courtesy of

I also found a few interesting details about the different names for Palm Sunday.
According to this link: Palm Sunday,
some cultures celebrate Palm Sunday as "Olive or Branch Sunday,
Sallow or Willow, Yew or Blossom Sunday,
or  Sunday of the Willow Boughs."
And another name, Fig Sunday, 
in cultures where eating figs is a traditional food for the holiday.
I would think it should be dates, but I don't recall any special food 
with dates or figs being served as Palm Sunday fare.
All the special foods were reserved for Easter,
which comes next week. 

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