Pussy Willow


The humble pussy willow is an important part of the Easter cycle celebrations in Ukraine.  Its branches are used in lieu of palms in Palm Sunday services.  Palms were apparently hard to get in Ukraine in days of old, so willow branches were substituted.

Pussy willows are the preferred branch, but ordinary willows will do in a pinch.  Long branches are cut, and are blessed during the mass.  They are then passed out, and people (mostly young ones) then go around hitting each other with them and saying:

                    Не я б’ю,

                    Верба б’є,

                    За тиждень Великдень

                    Не далеко жервоне яєчко!

Which translates to

                    It’s not me hitting you,

                    It’s the willow hitting you,

                    In a week it will be Easter,

                    Soon you will have a red egg.

Pussy willows are often depicted both on Easter cards and postcards, as well as on modern pysanky.  They are usually incorporated into a design, rather than being the main design.  You will sometimes see birds perched on pussy willow branches.

In recent years, pussy willow motifs have become quite common on Pokuttian folk pysanky.


Salix discolor

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