Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Palm Sunday, Christ the King, Balham

Posted on by royvickery |

010About 30 years ago the Polish Catholic Church of Christ the King in Balham, London Borough of Wandsworth, seemed to be dying, being attended mainly by elderly fur-coated ladies.  However, in recent years it has seen a massive increase in its congregation and, particularly at festivals, the church is packed mainly by families and young people.

Thus on Palm Sunday, 20 March 2016, people blocked the pavement as they waited to get in to the 10.45 a.m. mass.  As people who had attended an earlier service left the building others filtered in until the church was overful, with every seat in use and people standing in the aisles and wherever space was available.  A similar, though smaller, scrum developed later when people left this  service and people entered for a 034later one.

People brought with them a variety of ‘palms’ including tightly bound arrangements of dyed grass flowerheads and incorporating Helichrysum and other ‘everlasting’ Asteraceae flowers (these were most bought, though024 some people had made their own more elaborate versions), and flowers and foliage from their gardens.  In the church’s forecourt a woman sold bunches constisting of Alexandrian laurel (Danae racemosa), daffodil (Narcissus cv.) buds and a single twig of dried willow (Salix sp.).

No one used the fronds of palm (Arecaceae) which are so prevalent at Palm Sunday services in other churches although a single palm leaf adorned the top of an elaborate flower arrangement which hung from the roof in the centre of the church.

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