Tuesday, 7 April 2009

New Easter Traditions - Palm Sunday

This is our Easter bunny, a fat brown hare enjoying the sunflower seeds the birds and squirrels have dropped on the ground from the bird feeder above. This fellow is too lazy to bring any eggs. Our Easter chocolate eggs are hidden in the house by mother. If you look at the state of our lawn you will see why this is the way things are done in Finland!

On Sunday we had again some little visitors at our door, dressed as kind and friendly witches. They asked for permission and then said their blessing for the coming year, waving the decorated willow branch. They then gave me the branch and I gave them some chocolate eggs in return. The little baskets are for the eggs.

This is a very strange combination of the Greek Orthodox religious tradition and pagan beliefs. In Eastern Finland, Greek Orthodox children used to visit their grandparents and godparents early in the morning of Palm Sunday and leave them the decorated willows which had been blessed in the church, and collect their payment on Easter Sunday. The payment was a real egg, or even a meal, sometimes some money.
In Western Finland on the other hand, it was believed that witches and evil were very strong on Easter Saturday (when Christ was in his grave), and they moved around making their tricks so the cows would not start giving milk when the weather was warm again. Young people might move in the area dressed as witches and go in the stables, cut hair from the animals and bring it their own family's stable, thus bringing luck home and causing harm to the neighbours. DH's grandmother strongly believed this was possible to do.
Nowadays these two, quite opposite traditions of blessing and cursing are combined, maybe to make a substitute to Halloween trick or treating. Every year there is a discussion in the newspapers about this, and every year young mothers help their little ones with the branches and dresses. I could very well live without this new tradition, but I do prepare myself for the visits and sometimes find the little kids quite charming.

Here are my branches from last Sunday. I will keep them dry, because Mr. K is allergic to the pollen of willow and birch.

Last week I went to a charity shop which had moved to a new location. Everything was nicely put in place like in a normal shop, it was fresh and clean and nice. I bought some pillowcases for 30 c a piece, and some table cloths and curtains for 1 € or 2 €. Two pillowcases are this much fabric:

I bought some cotton fabrics from a fabric shop to match the colours, and made these two aprons - they still need the pockets sewn on - and some bags I will show later when they are finished.

Next I will need to concentrate on my children's flannel rag quilt for the sewing group exhibition. I have been working in the group on my swap projects and other items I have sent away so I need to finish something new for the show. I was sewing the flannel quilt before Christmas and run out of one fabric. I bought and washed the fabric but didn't start that project again. Luckily I know where it is; all I need to do is pick it up and see what can be done.


  1. What a good use of your charity shop finds, lovely aprons. Your weather still looks cold, is that snow I can see in your pictures?

  2. Well this is a very interesting tradition for the children. At first I also thought the branches might symbolize the palm branches they waved when Christ entered the city.. that is what we do here on Palm Sunday. But no one gets treats until Easter morning.

    What a clever way to recycle pillowcases!
    Can't wait to see the rag quilt you're working on. :-)

  3. What fascinating traditions. The idea that if you take hair or the head of something you are getting the power of it is shared in so many cultures. Corn dollys were said to have the spirit of the corn field in them as they were made from the last sheaf standing. All part of humanising aspects of nature from pagan times.

    I do like the branches you were given and the 2 looks of the witches who visited you. :-)

    What lovely aprons! You have been busy. I hope you have plenty for the show.

  4. I like your Easter bunny. We have one somewhere hidding in our trees and I would love to get a picture for Easter. Thanks for the history of the visiting children on Palm Sunday. We don't have anything like that in the U.S.

    Also enjoyed your vintage photo. I remember having a hand crocheted dress that belonged to a cousin. My aunt had made it. I don't think very many children have hand knit or crocheted dresses any longer.

  5. Good Morning Ulla, I love your aprons , I am an apron gal. What a different tradition but sweet for some.Love the bunny. Hope you and yours have a blessed Easter. Hugs, Marie

  6. Ulla, from you I'm learning so much about your country and traditions - thanks! I had heard of this, but didn't realize it was still being done. It seems from all the trees in the background that these children came quite a distance to your house!


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