Winter is still gripping Finland, but the snow is starting to melt away… Nature is coming to life again.
Did you notice the little witches wandering in your backyard today, chanting cheerful melodies? And they came knocking to your door performing a strange ritual. Dear Reader, it is because of Palm Sunday or Palmusunnuntai.
On this day kids go dressed up as witches or bunnies, and go around and visit their neighbours, carrying these little wands made out of pajunoksa(willow twigs), decorated with feathers and colourful pieces of paper in the shape of flowers.
What the children do is called ‘virpominen’. The children go in front of the host’s doorstep and start chanting the following verse:
I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead;
a twig for you, a treat for me!
After chanting the verse, the children give the pajunoksa to the host, and the host in return gives them chocolate eggs or some other treat.
The custom is a mix of two influences: Russian, where as the birch twigs represent the palms layed down when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and another tradition, this time Swedish where as the witches drove away evil on Palm Sunday. Basically it has to do with the long wait for spring.
There is a similar custom back at home in Macedonia, it is called ‘Запоткa‘, quite similar to this,also announcing the arrival of spring.
As Easter approaches, every Finnish household plant some seeds of grass in a shallow container, eagerly awaiting for them to sprout thus announcing the arrival of spring.
Did a bunch of witches appear at your doorstep? Do not chase them away, they will virvoa you ;) Dear Finnfanatics, spring is just around the corner. It is the season when our lovely maiden in the North comes back to life. It was about time!
Minä rakastan kevät!