Palm branch (symbol)


Palm branch (symbol)
Palm fronds

A palm branch (or palm frond or palm stem), usually refers to the leaves of the Arecaceae (sometimes known by the names Palmae).

The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in pre-Christian times. The Romans rewarded champions of the games and celebrated military successes with palm branches. The motto of Lord Nelson is "Palmam qui meruit ferat", which means in Latin, "Let him bear the palm who has deserved it" and has been adopted by numerous other organizations including the University of Southern California. Jews follow a similar tradition of carrying palm branches during festive times.[1]

Contents

Christianity

Early Christians used the palm branch to symbolize the victory of the faithful over enemies of the soul, as in the Palm Sunday festival celebrating the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Christian art, martyrs were usually shown holding a palm frond as an attribute, representing the victory of spirit over flesh, and it was widely believed that a picture of a palm on a tomb meant that a martyr was buried there.[2]

Origen calls the palm (In Joan., XXXI) the symbol of victory in that war waged by the spirit against the flesh. In this sense it was especially applicable to martyrs, the victors par excellence over the spiritual foes of mankind; hence the frequent occurrence in the Acts of the martyrs of such expressions as "he received the palm of martyrdom." On 10 April 1688 it was decided by the Congregation of Rites that the palm when found depicted on catacomb tombs was to be regarded as a proof that a martyr had been interred there. Subsequently this opinion was acknowledged by Mabillon, Muratori, Benedict XIV and others to be untenable; further investigation showed that the palm was represented not only on tombs of the post-persecution era, but even on pagan tombs.

The general significance of the palm on early Christian monuments is slightly modified according to its association with other symbols (e.g., with the monogram of Christ, the Ichthus (Fish), or the Good Shepherd). On some later monuments the palm was represented merely as an ornament separating two scenes. Palms also represented heaven, evidenced by ancient art often depicting Jesus in heaven among palms.

Judaism

The Tosher Rebbe of Montreal, Canada waving the Four Species during Hallel

In Judaism, the date palm (Lulav) is one of the Four Species used in the daily prayers on the feast of Sukkot. It is bound together with the hadass (myrtle), and aravah (willow). The Midrash[3] notes that the binding of the Four Species symbolizes our desire to unite the four "types" of Jews in service of God.

In the 1970s, Judean date palm seeds (believed to be 2000 years old) were recovered during excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel . In 2005, some of the seeds were planted. One grew and has been called "Methuselah". If it is female, it will bear fruit.

Islam

Muhammad is said to have built his home out of palm, and the palm symbolizes rest and hospitality in many cultures of the Middle East. The first muezzin climbed palm trees to call the faithful to prayer, from which the minaret developed.

Other religions

The sacred tree in Assyrian mythology is a palm that symbolizes Ishtar connecting heaven, the crown of the tree, and earth, the base of the trunk. Palm stems represented long life to the Ancient Egyptians, and the god Huh was often shown holding a palm stem in one or both hands. The Kingdom of Nri (Igbo) used the "omu", a tender palm frond, to sacralize and restrain. The palm tree was a sacred sign of Apollo in Ancient Greece because he had been born under one in Delos[4]. In ancient Mesopotamia, the date palm may have represented fertility in humans. The Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, who had a part in the sacred marriage ritual, considered herself the one who made the dates abundant.[5]

Modern usage

Maltese coat of arms

Today, the palm, especially the coconut, remains a symbol of a tropical island paradise[6]. Palms appear on the flags and seals of several places where they are native, including those of Malta, Haiti, Paraguay, Guam, Florida, Poland, Australia and South Carolina. It also appeared on the flag of the short-lived Tripolitanian Republic (1918–1923), though not followed in later Libyan flags.

The palm branch symbol is included in MUFI: ⸙ (2E19, ‘PALM BRANCH’ in Unicode).

See also

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Palm Sunday — is a Christian moveable feast which always falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates an event reported by all four Canonical Gospels , and and Matthew quotes this passage from Zechariah when narrating the story of Jesus entry to… …   Wikipedia

  • Palm — Palm(s) may refer to: * The central region of the front of the hand * Various plants: ** Palm tree or Arecaceae, a family of flowering plants belonging to the monocot order Arecales ** Traveler s palm or Ravenala madagascariensis , a species of… …   Wikipedia

  • Palm — Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are perennial… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • palm borers — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palm cabbage — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palm cat — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palm crab — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palm oil — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palm swift — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palm toddy — Palm Palm, n. [AS. palm, L. palma; so named fr. the leaf resembling a hand. See 1st {Palm}, and cf. {Pam}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any endogenous tree of the order {Palm[ae]} or {Palmace[ae]}; a palm tree. [1913 Webster] Note: Palms are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.