9th of April: The Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is celebrated all over the Catholic world and marks the beginning of the Holy week. According to Christian belief, on this day, Jesus, rode on a back of a donkey into Jerusalem, one week before his death and resurrection. The people greeted Jesus with joy, threw palm branches (which is a traditional symbol of peace and victory) at his feet and waved them in the air to honor him. For this reason, the tradition to commemorate this moment is still alive in the Catholic world. Many churches hold special Palm Sunday services that involve distributing palm to the congregation. As in Lithuania there is no palms and the palm trees are not imported, Lithuanians weave branches of indigenous plants and create so called “verba”- an oblong bouquet of dried flowers and plants. Typical “verba” consists of sprigs from juniper, mistletoe, berry greens, mosses, colorful flower blossoms. On Palm Sunday these “dried flowers bouquets” are brought to the church to be blessed. It is believed that blessed “verba” protects the house and keeps the whole family healthy.
A cheerful tradition of whipping each other with “Verba” is still alive today on a Palm Sunday in Lithuania. There is a believe that if one is hit with “Verba”, he will remain healthy for the next year. When somebody whippes you with it, he usually says “I do not hit you, Verba hits you” (Ne as musu, verba musa).