In desert countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Israel, date palms are important trees.  They thrive on intense heat.  For dates to ripen, they need several months with temperatures over 100.  It’s no wonder that palm trees are symbols of eternal life!

Over the centuries, Jews, Christians and Muslims have placed palm branches on graves as promises of resurrection, John’s gospel tells us that the people carried palms to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus is like a palm tree. Jesus gives us the promise of eternal life.

In northern Europe, pussy willows are symbols of life.  They are some of the first plants to spring into bloom after the long winter.  Some people call willows “palms,” and they bring willows to church on Palm Sunday.  In every country, to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, people bring to church whatever happens to be springing to life in their own backyards.

You can help welcome Jesus. What plants are coming to life in your neighborhood?  With permission, maybe you can cut a few springtime branches from a yard or field to bring to church for the blessing.  A bundle of branches can be gathered at the bottom like a tall bouquet, as people do in Guatemala.  Decorate your home grown “palm tree” with ribbons and flowers, as people do in Germany.

On Palm Sunday afternoon, your fancy ‘palm tree’ can be hung near the family cross or on the front door, or it can be carried to the cemetery to grace the graves.