Selling of the Palms…

This morning, in my customary “mailing-things-off-at-the-last-minute-style,” I bought the last few chocolate eggs and assorted dolci to send to Baby Cole for Easter. The over-sized Kinder Surprise egg won’t make it, I’m told, as if i didn’t already suspect this, but, hey, chocolate is chocolate to a six-year-old, and a cracked egg tastes just as good as a whole egg, and requires a lot less work to get to the goods.

Well, I saw the oddest thing this morning as I was leaving the supermercato with my chocolate egg n’ bunny stash. You see, I was still in my scour-for-Easter-type-regalo mode, so when I saw a yellow-green plant wrapped in a cellophane-like cone container, well, it caught my eye. I took a double take before asking Peppe if what I thought I saw for sale, was indeed, what I saw for sale.

And, it was!

On either side of the entrance to the supermercato was a man selling leaves for Palm Sunday!

“But, what are they for,” I asked Peppe again, certain I didn’t understand the true reason these men were selling palm leaves.

“For people to take to church tomorrow,” he repeated.

“But…but…why?? Why do they have to buy them?”

(Sometimes I am kinda slow…)

“So they will have one to take to Mass.”

(My Peppe is so patient with me.)

“You mean the church doesn’t GIVE you one for FREE?” I am in shock, here…

“Well, you don’t have to buy one,” he assures me.

But, I don’t want us to be the only two people in Mass tomorrow who were too cheap to pay a few euro for our palm leaves.

“…but, don’t worry, Cherrye,” he continues. “They’ll be selling them outside church tomorrow morning. You can buy one then.”

Now, is it just country girl, Southeast-Texas-Me here, or is it strange that people sell leaves for Palm Sunday? Apparently, it isn’t even the church selling them to make (or even recuperate) money, but any ole “Joe Blow” off the street can set up shop. I mean – what a business! Of course I’ll buy one, either for fear of sticking out like a sore thumb for NOT having one, or out of Catholic guilt for being too cheap to spare a euro, but I imagine I’m not alone. In a country where more than 90% of the people claim to be Catholic, there is a lot of guilt going on around here.

Anyone want to go into business with me next year?? Anyone?

10 Responses
  1. sognatrice

    I’m definitely with you here. I was shocked the first time I saw them on sale as well, which led me to wonder, who is the grand supplier of all the palms? All very weird.

  2. Giulia

    Did you notice that the actual “palm” is different than those in the U.S.? They use branches from olive trees here.

    So as I was reading through and got to this point, “”Well, you don’t have to buy one,” he assures me.” I felt a bit relieved, because I too figured churches are supossed to give you the palms, for free.
    Then I go on and read “…but, don’t worry, Cherrye,” he continues. “They’ll be selling them outside church tomorrow morning. You can buy one then.”

    I honestly don’t know what to think… I’m shocked. Good thing my daughter brought home 1 palm from school on Friday, and two more palms today from catechism! 😉

  3. cheeky

    I’m not surprised at all! If there is money to be made, there is always someone waitng to capitalize on it.
    I agree, it would seem appropriate for the church to supply them, but Jesus doesn’t care whether you walk into church with a palm or not. It’s your heart that he desires, not a “symbolic” branch. I do understand having been raised in the Catholic Church.
    It brings me to wonder this: Do Catholics going to church on Palm Sunday know why they are carrying a palm branch, and what it represents?
    Just some food for thought.

  4. Cherrye

    Sogn – good question. My mom said in the grand metropolis of Kountze that my grandparents used to collect them out of the woods for the church to use.

    Giulia – You are right, it is a funny thing. I also thought two things you mentioned were funny. 1) your daughter brought one home from, what I assume to be, public school; and 2) they had catechism on a Saturday. Some things are just different, aren’t they?

    Cheeky – You are right. I don’t believe Jesus does care if we carry the branch or not. I know my priest back home always talks about the significance of carrying the palm branches so we understand it. If I knew Italian better, I would let you know what our Italian priest says tomorrow. 🙂

  5. cupcake

    My church here in the bowels of North Carolina supplies them, but in return we have to sit through quarterly homilies devoted to the almighty dollar. The priest does explain their significance, as he very deliberately (read: SLOWLY) goes through the blessing o’ the palms. We’re supposed to keep them for a year and then burn them the following Palm Sunday. My mother-in-law weaves hers into a cross or some sort, but I tend to toss them in the trash. Yet another stone on my path to hell, I suppose.

    I enjoy your blog a great deal. Good luck with your b&b. My husband and I can’t hang shelves without winding up in couples’ therapy. A big doff of the wig to you and your fiancé for opening a business together!

  6. nikinpos

    All madness. I have just had to literally FIGHT my way through hundreds of people brandishing olive branches that tangled in my hair and clothes as I tried to get through. They were completely blocking the road with no thought to those who had to get to work on time.
    And now people keep coming in the shop with the stupid branches and shedding leaves all over the floor!
    (Can you tell I’m not enjoying Palm Sunday?)

  7. Cherrye

    Cupcake, thanks for stopping by and posting a comment! I’m glad to “see” ya here…and, thanks for the well-wishes on the B&B. BTW, I usually throw my Palm Leaf away, too. 🙁

    Niki – Yes, I can tell it isn’t the best Palm Sunday for you. But, I can totally see everyone dropping Olive branches in your store…One lady squeezed in beside me this morning (on an already too tight bench)at church with her olive tree, I mean, uh branch!

    Giulia mentioned this in her comment, but does anyone know WHY they use olive branches here, too? There were also people with palm leaves, but I saw an awful lot of olive branches this morning…

  8. cheeky

    The Palm is a symbol of peace, triumph and victory of the faithful.
    The olive tree is a symbol of abundance, peace and glory. Hence the saying, “extending an olive branch”.
    John 12:1-19 explains the usage of such symbols on Palm Sunday.

  9. KC

    I’m a bit late posting here, but sometimes it takes me a while to put 2 and 2 together…First of all, let me say I was also really surpised to find out that you have to buy the olive branches/palms here. But that’s not the point I wanted to make. Last Saturday, my husband and I were up on some of our land, and I kept hearing these strange crackling noises from the next olive orchard over. And I was thinking, “What are they doing, it sounds like they’re breaking all the branches off their trees? Why?” But now I get it. Maybe next year my husband and I will join in their money-making scheme! 🙂

  10. Pat

    They use olive branches because in the Gospel Christ was greeted with people holding both olive and palm branches. We never had olive branches in the States because palm was easier for the church to obtain. In Northern Europe people use pussy willow or evergreen, etc., whatever is local. In the ancient church in Milan, it was actually called Olive Sunday.

    Anyway, you people totally baffle me sometimes…you’re in Italy…if the church handed out the palm like they do in the States, then everyone’s would be the same, no one would be special, and Italy is all about being special. When you buy it, decorated, braided, etc. you can walk into church where everyone will be looking to see who has the biggest palm, who was too cheap to buy a nice palm, who does a really good job braiding palm, who has the nerve to walk into church with palm when they’ve slept with half the town…etc…

    I bought my palm on Saturday from a Paisan’ in the Bronx, who continues the decorating tradition of my Sorrento ancestors.

    I love the blog.

    Buona Pasqua a Tutt’Equante!

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