The Easter traditions start with Palm Sunday (Willow Day) or Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. The Sunday of this holiday, preceding the Pascha Sunday, is the beginning of the Holy Week and reminds us about the Saviour’s entry into Jerusalem and about His triumphant welcoming with palm branches and flowers.
Customs, traditions and beliefs
In the region of Oltenia the believers go to church with willow branches, which the priest sanctifies at the end of the service. In the past, after going out of the church, the believers girded themselves with willow branches in order not to have pains in the lower back (or in the back) when working in the field, especially at harvest-time. When there is a storm, in order to protect the house from lightnings, they used to throw in the fire the flowers from Palm Sunday, the lime or the walnut leaves from the Pentecost or the flowers from the procession around the church at the Entombment of our Christ on Good Friday. Also, on Palm Sunday and on Holy Thursday it is not permitted people to mumble incantations. It was usual the sanctified willow branches to be interwoven in the cows’ horns for abundance of milk and for protecting the animals from magic, or to be put in the hemp in order to grow more, in the orchards in order to be protected from hail, but especially near the icons and at the house threshold.
Soon before and after the Palm Sunday, the walls of the village houses are whitewashed, all the doors, windows, the table, the chairs are washed so that everything can be clean. At that time the women try to supply themselves with red saw-dust (splinters), bark from wild apple and anemone for colouring the Easter eggs.
Sources: Alexandru Doru Șerban, Valentina Șerban, Credințe, datini și obiceiuri în Gorj; Ana Daria Ionescu-Haidău, Sânzienile.