Magnolia leaves used for palms
Ville Platte, La.
I am just getting around to reading past issues of the Clarion Herald after a busy Lenten and first half of Easter seasons, so this comes a bit late but may help in the future.
Concerning your article on the shortage of palms for Palm Sunday due to freezing cold snaps (March 17, “Brother, can you spare a palm?”), may I suggest an old custom from the Cajun prairies where magnolia leaves are gathered and blessed as palms on Palm Sunday? I don’t know how the practice was started, but for as long as I can remember, they were used by my parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
After the leaves were blessed, they were placed above doors, behind crucifixes, and even inserted in back of pictures of Mary and the saints, their edges peeking from behind. It was even believed that burning a dried palm outside of one’s home during a severe storm or hurricane would ward away the bad weather!
I thought you might be interested in that bit of South Louisiana lore, maybe you can get an article from it! I’m not a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, but of the Diocese of Lafayette. Still, I do love reading the Clarion Herald. Keep up the good work!
FATHER MITCH GUIDRY
Our Lady, Queen of All Saints Church