Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cum ramis palmarum

Outside my window today

Ingrediente Domino in sanctam civitatem, Hebraeorum pueri resurrectionem vitae pronuntiantes,  Cum ramis palmarum: Hosanna, clamabunt, in excelsis.  Cum audisset populus, quod Iesus veniret Ierosolymam, exierunt obviam ei. Cum ramis palmarum: Hosanna, clamabunt, in excelsis.

As our Lord entered the holy city, the Hebrew children, declaring the resurrection of life, with palm branches, cried out: Hosanna in the highest. When the people heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they went forth to meet Him: With palm branches, cried out: Hosanna in the highest.

Palm Sunday. For me it means processioning at church, a gift of a palm cross, hot cross buns and snow. The last item is specific to today because we had a snow storm. Hot cross buns began in the middle ages when a part of the blessed host would be placed into buns and the cross was marked on the top to signify the host. The buns were sometimes nailed over the doorways of homes for good luck. Some people have elevated the palm cross into a form of mystical object but I just find it an interesting annual keepsake to remember Jesus' entry into Jerusalem just a few days before His crucifixion. I have no reliquaries.  For clergy the palms are burned at the end of the day and the ashes preserved for next year’s Ash Wednesday.

The donkey was a symbol of peace and the laying of the palm leaves represented the arrival of a king. I wish that the American government would remember this symbol with respect to Cuba. Since 1962 there has been a total trade embargo and one consequence is that observant Cuban Jews lost their access to kosher items for Passover so each year groups in Canada would send these items as Maot Chitim (Wheat money) under an old Jewish custom of gathering wheat to provide the poor with matzoh. Maybe one day they’ll learn. Rabbi Hillel once said “He who refuses to learn deserves extinction.” I just hope that they embrace the true meaning of their traditions.

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