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Palm Sunday – Olive Sunday

Experience a special Cypriot tradition: Olive Sunday! This Sunday, which kicks off Holy Week, is a unique celebration for us. Cypriots traditionally bring olive branches to church, giving rise to the name “Olive Sunday.”

Just like many Orthodox icons depict, Jesus enters triumphantly into Jerusalem riding a white donkey, where he was greeted by a crowd waving palm branches and laying cloaks on the ground to honor him. This event is commemorated across the island’s churches.

Following the Divine Liturgy, the congregation gathers in the courtyard where the priest reads the Holy Gospel. When he says “while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road”, the people cut the leaves from the olive branches and toss them in a celebratory gesture.

On that day, churches are adorned with palm branches, homes are decorated with olive branches at their entrances, and people pin small olive leaf or palm leaf crosses on their clothes.

A unique custom involves leaving a bunch of olive branches wrapped in pillow cases in the church. These branches remain in the church for the next fifty days until Ascension in order to be sanctified.

Once dried, the leaves are used as incense (Kapnisma) in censers, believed to ward off evil spirits.

Even though Lent is ongoing, fish is a special treat permitted on Olive Sunday. Families celebrate with a feast, enjoying a variety of fish dishes alongside other delicious Lenten foods.

Join us in celebrating Olive Sunday as it offers a unique blend of spirituality and cultural immersion.

Mark your calendars! Olive Sunday falls on April 28th this year.

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