The most important celebration in the Christian calendar, Easter, is approaching. This year, Easter is celebrated a week apart by the Western and Eastern Churches. The majority of Romanians (over 80%) belong to the Christian Orthodox Church.
A week before Orthodox Easter, this Sunday, April 12, Christian Orthodox all over the world – Romania included – are celebrating Palm Sunday. This is while in the Western Christian Churches, Easter is being celebrated.
Palm Sunday is the day that commemorates Jesus‘ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In Romania, this celebration is known as ‘Florii’, meaning in translation ‘flowers’. That is why, everyone whose name is that of a flower (for example: Florin, Florica, Margareta etc.) is also being celebrated.
In preparation for Palm Sunday, Romanians gather willow branches on this day. After that, they tie them together and take them to church for the Sunday mass where the branches will be blessed by the priest.
After being blessed, they will be taken back home. Here they will be hung and kept until autumn in different spots around the house. Some usual spots are: above the religious icons, windows, doors, fountains, entrances.
It is also believed that these willow branches can be used to heal diseases, so they are highly cherished by the Romanian people. In some regions, people will even tie the branches around their waists with the belief that it will help alleviate their back aches or other illnesses.
Young unmarried women will place the blessed branches under their pillow. This is done with the hope that it will make them more beautiful and help them find a suitable husband.
A long time ago, it was believed that the willow branches laid around the icons after Palm Sunday could protect against storms, lighting and hail. That is why people would throw these branches into the fire when menacing storm clouds gathered.
There is another superstitions that says that if you receive communion on Palm Sunday, you should make a wish afterwards. The wish will come true sooner than if you had made a wish on another day.
Palm Sunday is also the last day on which ladies can untie their Martisor bracelets they had been wearing since March 1. They can tie this on the branch of a tree in bloom, marking the return of spring.