April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday in Cyprus, Known as Olive Sunday

In Cyprus, Palm Sunday is also known as Olive Sunday or the Sunday of Olives. It is called this because there is a Pan-Cypriot custom of bringing olive branches to the churches on this day where they remain until Ascension Thursday in order for them to be sanctified. After remaining in the church for about fifty days, they are sanctified and dried up, which allows the leaves to be used for "smoking", that is, to be used as incense in a censer to bless the home or other places, as well as members of the family throughout the year. It is believed that this sanctified olive smoke exorcises evil.

In some cases, such as in the village of Agios Mamas in Limassol, an entire olive tree from the property of the church is cut down and brought into the church. The Christians take leaves from it and use it as incense throughout the year. In other cases, olive branches are brought into the church on Great Thursday and remain there until Ascension.

Also in Cyprus, when the priest reads from the Gospel of the day in the courtyard of the church the verse which says "others cut branches from the trees," the faithful cut and throw small olive branches.

It is also a custom on Olive Sunday to make a small cross out of two olive leaves, which the faithful wear over their chest. And in various regions of Cyprus an olive branch is placed at the entrance of houses or windows on this day.