Palm Sunday—one week before Easter Sunday—marks the start of the Christian "Holy Week" which culminates with Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem to great celebration, welcome and fanfare. Many of the revelers waved palm branches, laying them on the ground before Jesus. Within days, He would be condemned by the authorities, tortured and crucified. This rollercoaster of adoration and renunciation provides the dramatic prelude to Jesus's death—a tragic but necessary passage which had to happen before the Resurrection.
Why palms? Palms have a long history of importance and symbolism in many cultures. In the arid climes surrounding the Mediterranean, palms provided life-sustaining food, shade and building materials. In Ancient Egypt, the palm represented Eternal Life. Burial chambers were decorated with paintings of funeral processions—showing marchers bearing palm leaves or fronds. To the Ancient Greeks, palm leaves symbolized Victory—and were associated with the goddess Nike (the personification of Victory in Art, Athletics and War). Palms were held by the victors or were woven into crowns to be worn upon the head. In more modern times—from the Age of Enlightenment to the period following World War II—stylized palm branches were common decorative elements on memorials (sculpture, placards or architecture) commemorating the heroic dead or on medals awarded to those who served with honor. In Asia, broad palm leaves were cut into "pages" for writing (and sometimes bound into little books). Thus, in Christian Symbolism, palms have come to represent Victory over Death, Eternal Life, and The Resurrection.
The handsome English vase, shown above, is decorated with hand-incised palm fronds and glazed in shades of organic aqua, blue and brown. It was made by William S. Mycock for Pilkington Royal Lancastrian in 1932. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248