British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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126                                     PALM SUNDAY.                       [MARCH 15.
PALM SATURDAY.
MARCH 14.]                        SCOTLAND.
On the Saturday before Palm Sunday the boys belonging to the grammar-school at Lanark, according to ancient usage, used to parade the streets with a palm, or its substitute, a large tree of the willow kind, (Salix caprea), in blossom, ornamented with daffodils, mezereon, and box-tree. This day was called Palm Saturday, and supposed to be a popish relic of very ancient standing.—Stat. Ace. of Scotland, Sinclair, 1795, vol. xv. p. 45.
March 15.]                 PALM SUNDAY
Palm Sunday receives its English and the greater part of its foreign names from the custom of bearing palm branches, in commemoration of those which were strewn in the path of Christ on his entry into Jerusalem, " It is a custom among churchmen,'' says the author of a Normano-Saxon homily in the reign of Henry II., or Richard I., " to go in procession on this day. The custom has its origin in the holy pro­cession which our Saviour made to the place where he chose to suffer death."
The ceremony of bearing palms on Palm Sunday was retained in England after some others were dropped, and was one of those which Henry VIII. in 1536 declared were not to be discontinued. In a proclamation in the library of the Society of Antiquaries, dated the 26th February, 1539, " Concernyng rites and ceremonies to be used in due fourme in the Churche of Englande," occurs the following clause : " On Palme Sonday it shall be declared that bearing of palmes renueth the memorie of the receivinge of Christe in lyke maner into Jerusalem before his deathe." Again, in Fuller's Church History (1655, p. 222), we read that " bearing of palms on Palm Sunday is in memory of the receiving of Christ into Jerusalem a little before his death, and that we may have the same desire to receive him into our hearts."
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