Sunday, March 29, 2009

Old Traditions in Germany

The German word Palmesel (palm donkey) refers to the statue of Christ on a donkey, mounted on a wheeled platform, which was part of Palm Sunday processions in many German-speaking regions until the Reformation. In the Middle Ages these processions, which reenacted Christ's entry into Jerusalem mounted on an ass, were lively pageants in which hymns were sung, palms strewn, and clothes spread on the ground before the Palmesel. The figure of Christ retains, in contrast, an air of quiet majesty.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, almost every village had its own palm donkey for the Palm procession, a ritual symbolising Christ's arrival in Jerusalem. Often it was a life-sized model donkey, upon which a carving of Christ was often seated. The procession with the palm donkey was once widespread not only in the southern parts of the German-speaking world, but also in some Dutch and Belgian regions.

For more on Palmesl figures see my other Blog:

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