Palmbosch’n’



Lichtenau, Germany

‘Palmbosch’n’
On Palm Sunday, April 5th, while walking through the village of Lichtenau and the city of Ansbach, we noticed spread across the threshholds to a cafe/restaurant (Lichtenau) and a dining hall of a Protestant parish courtyard (Ansbach) (both primarily Protestant communities) from afar looked like fresh cut flower greens (not the flower heads/petals) or fern branches, but a closer inspection hints more as fresh tree sapling sprouts or branches, some evergreen; making a pathway into the establishment. Google searches provided no suggestions. Communitie discussion on networks and folklore boards came up with the following: (1) The Troll: foliage representing palm fronds for “Palm Sunday” (Catholic tradition on this April 5th; possibly Byzantine roots before spread to Catholicism in 5th century); (2) The Troll: (alternate) if Willow branches: Russian Orthodox, Polish and Bavarian Roman Catholics, and various other East European peoples carry pussy willows on Palm Sunday instead of palm branches (which do not grow that far north). This custom has continued to this day among Romanian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Polish Catholic, and Ukrainian Catholic emigrees in North America. (3) Bonefinder: Palmbosch’n’ – the Berchtesgadeners still believe in the ‘magic powers’ of the Palmbosch’n (literally ‘palm bushes’): According to the web site, there is no farm in the area that isn’t decorated each spring with so-called palm bushes that ornament the entire house from bedrooms to stables; they are not palm leaves (too hard to come by in the areas) but rather most often tree branches such as the willow branch (most measuring between 60 and 140 cm (two to five feet) in length). A ritual is conducted before they are used, as they have the uppermost twigs of the willow branch slit open with a small switch of beech or cedar inserted to bring blessings upon the house. The Palmbosch’n are also decorated with ‘Gschabertbandl’. These multicolored ribbon ornaments are made from long wood shavings that have been dyed and ironed. A final touch is given to the ‘willow palms’: two tiny slits are cut into the stem under the bark. This is said to ‘release the witches and druids’ who are believed to hibernate in there. While often associated with the Christian tradition of celebrating Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, its traditions appear more Pagan as the palm is symbolic of nature’s life-force, the positive force that awakens spring each year. This life-force has to combat the negative, destructive force symbolized by witches and druids. The tradition originally Pagan, has come to be practiced by Christianity in combination with the Palm traditions – the ‘palm’ willows are carried to church by the children, the blest stems are placed in the fields where their ‘magic’ powers – or today – their ‘blessings’ can take effect. To the locals, this customs announces the spring and is a silent prayer for a good year. [paraphrased and synopsis from the above web site ]. I’m much more likely to believe relevance to this tradition as the greens could have been willow branches (but shorter than mentioned) and cedar or evergreen mixed within. (4) Easter time starts in Palm Sunday when the palms are consecrated and the Holy Week is introduced. The palms are branched-out bunches of willows decorated with colourful “Schaberbandln” (wood shaving) of the length of some inches to one yard, plaited in balls, rings or stars. Younger boys, the “Palmtrager” take the palms to the church where they are consecrated during a mass. One does not find a farm in the area that isn’t decorated in Spring with so-called palm branches that ornament the entire house. Most of the inhabitants still believe in the magic power of “Palmbosch’n”. (5) Brad: A pagan holdover, the “Foliagegespredden” is a welcome to the Goddess Freia on her “heiligtag” (holy day), and is an invitation to Spring “Fruehlingwillkommen”…


parrish court threshhold
Ansbach, Germany
(click on photo for larger view)


Lichtenau, Germany


closeup of leaves
cafe / restaurant threshhold
Lichtenau, Germany
(click on photo for larger view)

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