Yesterday must have been quite the green spring day on certain parts of the continent. Willow branches are the best, my grandmother used to say when she’d sent us by the stream to acquire some for her.
The Pentecost, the fifty days of Easter, marks the beginning of many outdoor and springtime activities in Eastern Europe. Green is the colour from now on, and wild flowers and tree branches adorning gates and doorways are a must, because this is not about the man-made stay-green year around nature that normally sprinkles our urban cement or earth beaten paths dwellings to be sure.
This must be done specifically and purposefully because the first Sunday after the Pentecost is considered the All Saints’/All souls’ Sunday, around there.
On Holy Thursday during the holy week of Easter the gates of heaven and hell are said to be open to allow Jesus’s soul to enter and, afterwards, to exit the celestial realm again. This means, of course, that the doors are also open for all the other souls existing in heaven or hell, which allows them the opportunity to cross over and visit the earthen realm once more, if so they wish it. Or if they are called home by someone back here.
In medieval Europe, fires were lit outdoors and candles were burned in every room to guide the souls straight back to their respective earthly homes where they were thus obviously wanted and expected. This was also supposed to prevent them aimlessly haunting other folk’s places, by mistake. Some say that a household protected by linden branches will keep the evil souls away while allowing the right ones in.