Palm Sunday

After Palm Sunday services, it was customary for Ukrainians exiting church to gently tap each other with the blessed pussy willow branches. This custom, known as "Boze Rany" ("God’s Wounds") was done to imitate the scourging of Jesus by His captors on Holy Friday.  But the tapping of friends with the pussy willow branches was actually a wish for good health, wealth and happiness. That is because the tapping was usually accompanied by the phrase: "Bud’ velyki yak verba, zdorovi ’yak voda, bohati yak zemlia’. "This expression translates as: "Be as big as the willow, healthy as water, rich as the earth”.  The blessed willow branches were then taken home. Some were planted by the father or oldest son.  If they took root, it meant many good things would come to the family that year.  Most of the blessed pussy willow branches were placed in front of, behind or above holy pictures in the home. These branches would replace the branches that had been placed there the previous year.   The branches which were taken down were carefully burned. 

In Ukraine, the first three days of Holy Week, also called the Pure ("Chystyi") Week or Great (“Velykyi") Week, was a very busy period. All significant housework, repairs and cooking had to be accomplished on these three days before Holy Thursday. The women and girls of the home would do house cleaning and prepare foods and the Pysanky for the basket of blessed food. This included the baking of the Paska and Babka. The men and boys cleaned the barn and outbuildings and stored the firewood needed for the Holy Week.


Holy Thursday