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Object of the Week: The Palaspas

Get ready for Palm Sunday with a DIY Paper Palm

Community quarantine has probably felt like the days have stretched, and some don’t even know what day it is already.  For those who missed it, tomorrow is Palm Sunday.  On any other normal season of Lent, this time of the year sees many Filipinos attending church services in commemoration of Christ’s triumphant arrival to Jerusalem, riding a humble donkey, indicative of his peaceful mission.  Matthew Chapter 21:1-11 tells the story of this pivotal event in the life of Jesus Christ. 

This event has been a celebrated subject in art, from Giotto:

To Andrew Lloyd Webber:

It is said that the palms were waved by the townspeople as a sign of great respect for Jesus Christ.  In the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean cultures, the palms were symbols of victory and eternal life.  Their symbolism is also prevalent in the Jewish culture’s Feast of Tabernacles.  They were also used by the Maccabeans when they defeated the Greeks thousands of years ago.  The symbolism was adapted by the Catholic Church, and practiced to this day.  On Palm Sunday, palms are usually distributed to the faithful in order for them to process into church carrying them.  This mass kicks off the solemn Holy Week.

Typical Palm Sunday scene at churches in the Philippines where the tropical palm leaves take on various artful forms in observance of the religious day. | @mkcphotog09

The palm leaf or “palaspas,” has since taken on various forms, and has become a local craft.

Paper palms:

Since all mass gatherings have been cancelled this year due to community quarantine, here is a DIY project you can make at home.  It’s relatively easy.  The kids can even do this with you.

You will need:

-        Paper (preferably crepe paper, but any paper will do)

-        Scissors

-        Floral Wire Follow the steps in this video:

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This has been much requested, so here is a short video on how I make my paper palm leaves. 😊🍃 They’re pretty easy and you could make them with children too. ✂️I’ve used crepe paper and floral wire for the stem, but you could easily use lots of different papers to make these.. . Take a rectangle of crepe paper checking the grain runs across the paper. Stretch out fully. Fold in half from left to right and cut a diagonal from the bottom right hand corner to the top left corner. Trim bottom edge. Fold over a small strip along the bottom, turn over and fold the same width on the other side. Scrape your fingernail down each fold as you go to make as sharp as possible. Repeat until you have folded all the way along the triangle. Fold the piece in half and apply glue to one of the central edges, avoiding the area closest to the centre. Glue firmly to the other side to form your leaf. . For the stem, take a piece of floral wire and wrap with a strip of crepe with glue. Bend the end of the wire in to a hook and apply a little glue. Feed through the centre of the leaf so that it meets the other side of the wire underneath the leaf. I use wire cutters to bend the wires to sit tightly underneath. Wrap underneath the leaf to secure with a little more of the crepe strip with glue. Then apply a little glue to the very centre of the leaf to close the gap that was left. You can then go over the paper folds again to make them sharper if needed and trim the excess away from the top point of the leaf. . Please do tag me if you use the tutorial, I would very much love to see what you make. 🙌✂️💕 . #botanicalart #origamiart #paperartist #papercraft #paperlove #paperflowers #imsomartha #paperart #paperpalms #botanicalartist

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If the palms are blessed, do not throw them away as the blessing makes them a sacred object.  They are usually given back to the church to burn for next year’s Ash Wednesday or kept at home.

You may opt to do this as a simple DIY project.  Here are ways to use your paper palm leaves at home: