Celebration of Palm Day and Saint Lazarus

For us celebrating these holidays here was particularly different because even though Saint Lazarus is celebrated in few parts of the north of Spain, but it’s not considered as holidays with great deal of importance even for most devout Catholics in Spain, on the other hand and Palm Sunday is also celebrated, and it is quite popular. So that is why for us as foreign volunteers coming from a different cultural, and religious background, we have never had experienced such traditions like that such as eastern eggs decoration, or even community dances for the occasion.

Saint Lazarus

This festivity in Spain coincides with Fifth Sunday of Lent, but it’s not celebrated in whole country of Spain. One place where is celebrated is in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) for four days. This festivity it’s called “Festa da Uña”, and it’s celebrated outdoors by singing some religious songs, a religious service is also celebrated all the way back to the church.  Also, it’s organized a pilgrimage where religious people offer peace of meat to the Saint. It is very popular, especially among French people, to give a try to the traditional dish of the festivity made with pig’s trotters with cabbage, usually served with chorizo and potatoes.

Whereas here in Bulgaria It is a bigger deal to celebrate it because it is very linked with Bulgarian folklore and its traditions. Also, it is sometimes related to gender context, so this festivity is celebrated, sort of initiation ritual of passage for women as a preparation to become a future wife. Or in case of kids, to embrace different traditional dresses. It is also trying to symbolize the symbol of women blessing fields, forest and rivers.

Palm Sunday or Vrabnitsa.

The Spanish Palm Sunday, unlike the previous holiday, it is more celebrated. For the celebration, there is a procession, blessing of the palm and then it is burned outside while singing some sort of gospel songs. But we can’t say there is a unique way of celebrating it. For instance, in Tenerife, for Palm Sunday there is a traditional procession that starts from the Cathedral of San Cristóbal de la Laguna and is usually accompanied by the Brotherhood of the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, performing a representation of that historical scene. Or in Levant, usually older children, men and women carry olive branches in their hands, others hang them as if they were brooches in their costumes as a symbol of the Christian celebration. After the Holy Week is over, it continues with the burn of the Palms leaves. These ashes will be saved and used for the next Ash Wednesday celebration, where the priest will apply the ashes obtained on the foreheads of people, marking them with a cross, symbolizing the shortness of life.

In the case of Bulgaria, in the orthodox tradition, people tend to celebrate it by going to the church, dressing numerous flowers or decorating the front of their doors specially with willow springs. It is said that this flower protects from evil forces and other diseases, and it is associated with happiness, health, revival, and youth.

The day of the celebration

Kids were already dressed up and while the teacher and pianist set all the scenarios for the big day, kids were playing, reciting on their heads or out loud their songs and in a quite joyful mode. Meanwhile parents started to come as well as some personalities from the museum.

The teacher with one kid kind of acting as organizing of the event started reciting a few quotes of a play, everyone participated in a way. There were kids more involved than others, and that engaged with the people more than others, but overall, all kids seem to be having a good time.

You could really see, especially from my foreign eyes, how parents and instructors really put a big effort to do it correctly and kids to act in a coordinated way. All children participated in a recital and got involved, could it be by reciting a few quotes of the play had prepared, distributing flowers to all members of the play, or dancing.

Then the play was over and all the sudden the pianist changed the type of the song to a more cheerful one. And kids made 2 circles separate by gender, one for the boys and other for the girl. Hand in hand both circles of kids started to move around, kids seemed to be enjoying it, and from time to time all stopped to perform a little dance in a coordinated way, doing the same thing. It was typical Bulgarian folklore being tough to kids from so young.In Spain there are also some celebrations involving dancing and costumes in schools, but it is mainly in carnival, where all the Spanish folklore gets part sometimes. Afterwards, we, the volunteers and some parents, joined the kids all together in a big circle, it was quite fun I have to say to get involved in something new for me for a little while.

Finally, we got into action. We congratulated the kids for the fantastic job and then started to explain a few of the Spanish traditions we do in this festivity. After the interesting but a bit dull for the kids talk, we organize a little game for the kids. We separated them in 4 tables and brought them a few posters drawn by ourselves of their Winnie de pooh cartoons so they could stick the flowers painted by the kids into the cartoons faces.

Overall it seemed that parents, teachers, museum staff, and of course us the volunteers had a good time. We may be coming from quite different countries but in some other ways like family celebrations or celebrating the community involvement in any religious or not religious holiday, we believe, maybe we are not so different.

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