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Restrictions on palms

16 March 2018

March 15th, 1918.

WE LEARN, with no acute sense of disappointment, that owing to restrictions upon the import of luxuries, dried palms from the East will not be obtainable this year for use on Palm Sunday. These sere and yellow branches, of which it is a modern fashion to twist single fronds into little crosses for distribution, are not in themselves particularly beautiful. Their free use is comparatively recent, and has only within the last generation or two become possible, though Dr Dearmer notes that a Sarum Processional shows in a woodcut real palms for the ministers, and branches of other trees lying on the altar steps for the rest of the worshippers. Englishmen of old were well content to use on Dominica in ramis branches and sprays of their native willow and yew and box, which are both beautiful and fragrant. In France box is chiefly used. Throughout Russia the catkins of the sweet-scented golden willow are employed, as also among the Assyrian Christians, who from this use call the golden willow “the Hosanna tree”. This year necessity will compel us to revert to the old use, and to pick up the recently broken thread of a venerable English tradition. Perhaps after the war there will be a disinclination to resume the modern custom, since it will have been found that the old is better.

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