On Palm Sunday in the Byzantine Church, you don't just get palms. You also get these:
That's right, pussywillows. Isn't that cool? (That's my newly painted dining room wall in the background, by the way.)
At my first Byz Palm Sunday, I couldn't understand WHY they would give out pussywillows. That seemed so...I don't know, weird?? Then I realized that DUH, Eastern Europe has never exactly been flush with cash, and since palms aren't native plants, it would be VERY expensive to have palms shipped in from warmer climates. And I'm sure the Communists would have found some way to have stolen them from the people, or worse. This is a great example of using what you've got on hand, by the way.
Here are our "bouquets." They have been relegated to the top of the fridge for now since one of my little darlings thinks they are snacks just for her. She ate the tips off all of the palms...and then threw it all up. Beautiful.
Anyway, pussywillows were a big part of my life even before I attended a Byz Cath church. My grandfather would give them to my grandmother and me every spring, without fail. Even when he was too weak to actually walk up to the tree, he'd ride his golf cart as close as he could, use a stick or something to pull down the branch, and then snip away. When I lived next door to him, he'd leave them at my doorstep. The fact that my grandfather gave these out has led Turtle to believe that perhaps someone in my family way back was Byzantine Catholic.* I think it's just a fun thing that he liked to do.
This year, it was different. My grandfather passed away in October, and Palm Sunday was the 6th month anniversary of his funeral. It had been years since he had given me any pussywillows (he lived in a nursing home for about 2 years before his passing), it was nice. A little bittersweet, because I will always miss him, but at least now that I attend a Byz Cath church I will always get pussywillows every spring. In fact, I think the last year I got them from him was the spring before I got married. There's a wee bit of symbolism in there.
*Turtle also believes that since my grandmother did a traditional Easter basket that she had blessed on Holy Saturday, that too makes me Byz way back. It's a Eastern European thing--both grandparents were of Polish descent. But I think it's cute how T is trying to find a connection :)