Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 9 - Palm Sunday.
There’s a special Sunday before Easter, in the sixth week of Lent. Christians in Russia call this day the “Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem”, or, Вход Господень в Иерусалим (Vkhod Gaspoden' v Iyerusalim) in Russian and celebrate the day. More colloquially, this holiday is known as Palm Sunday. It doesn’t have a fixed date, because the date depends on the date of Easter. In this lesson, we will explain this holiday and its significance for the Orthodox Christians in Russia.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- why is the willow a symbol of the entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem in Russia, when in many other countries, palm branches are the symbol?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In Orthodox Christianity, Palm Sunday is referred to as such, because of the tradition of celebrating the holiday with date palm branches, or ваи (vai) in Russian. However, in Russia, this holiday is popularly known as Willow Sunday, or вербное воскресенье (verbnaye vaskresen’e) in Russian. The reason why is that willow branches are customarily used instead of palm branches in Russia.
The Willow Sunday holiday is connected to the famous entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. In Russian, Jerusalem is Иерусалим (Iyerusalim). When Jesus Christ entered into Jerusalem an ecstatic crowd welcomed Jesus as their Messiah. However, the path of his earthly suffering begins from that very moment. This holiday is of great significance to all Christians, because it symbolizes the voluntary beginning of his sufferings for all of mankind’s salvation.
On this day people attend a church service, or церковная служба (tserkovnaya sluzba) in Russian. During the Saturday evening service, on the eve of Willow Sunday, willow branches are blessed. According to the Orthodox tradition, the blessed branches are preserved for a year and used for decoration. People think that after being blessed, the willow branches acquire the miraculous power to cure diseases, remove spells or other troubles, and protect from evil.
On this day, people try to touch their bodies with a blessed willow branch because Willow Sunday is connected to the belief that if you tap your body with a willow branch, you will be healthy throughout the year.
So listeners, why is the willow a symbol of the Entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem in Russia, when in many other countries, palm branches are the symbol?
The answer is very simple. It's related to the fact that palms do not grow in Russia. The willow, on the other hand, is the first tree to come to life and blossom after the winter, which is why its branches have been used instead of palm branches since ancient times.
Well Listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything new?
Is Palm Sunday celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!