On this day, the Christian Church celebrates Palm Sunday. Also known as the Sunday of the Passion of Jesus, it is the solemnity with which Holy Week begins, the last days of Jesus’ life. The Palm Festival, which partly recalls the Jewish pilgrimage festival of “Sukkot” (Feast of Huts), is observed not only by Catholics, but also by Orthodox and Protestants.


Jesus at the entrance of Jerusalem
Source: papaboys.org


Jesus, who had come with his disciples to Betfage (near Jerusalem), had sent two of them to pick up a donkey with a colt in that village. The Disciples obeyed and returned with the two animals. The next morning they covered their backs with cloaks. Jesus sat down and set out on his way to Jerusalem, where a large crowd welcomed him waving branches of palm trees in his honor.


The liturgy, of ancient tradition, provides for the faithful to gather in a place near the church. Here the priest blesses the branches of olive or palm trees which are then carried in a procession into the church, where Mass is celebrated, including the reading of the Passion of Jesus. The blessed branches of palm and/or olive are then distributed to the faithful who keep them at home as a symbol of peace, exchanging some with friends and relatives.



In Rome on Palm Sunday the Pope celebrates the event with a Mass in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope, in the center of the square, blesses the palm trees and olive trees and, at the end of the procession, as the rite establishes, celebrates Mass with the memory of the Passion of Christ.
Pope John Paul II has been calling for the celebration of World Youth Day (when there is no International Day) all over the world since 1985.

The Pope in St Pert’s Square today
(Source: famigliacristiana.it)


The episode is narrated by all 4 Gospels, although the only one to speak of palm branches is only the Gospel of John. While Luke’s Gospel does not mention it, Matthew and Mark’s Gospels tell us that the crowd waved branches of trees or branches taken from the fields.

The palm tree, symbol of triumph, acclamation and royalty, alludes to victory, rebirth and immortality. For these reasons, in Christian art he often accompanies the figures of martyrs: “the just will flourish like the palm, will grow like the cedar on Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12). The palm is a testimony of martyrdom, but also a foreshadowing of the just reward in the kingdom of God and of the resurrection after death.

On this day of celebration, however, we see many times also olive twigs that, according to some historians, were introduced in Italy because of the scarcity of palm trees in some areas of the peninsula and the abundance of olive pruning in this season of the year.
The olive branches are linked to the episode of the universal flood. Noah, after the deluge, sent a dove, who in the evening returned to him carrying in his beak an olive branch, as evidence that the waters had withdrawn from the earth. The olive tree thus becomes a symbol of peace between man and God, of that covenant of covenant that the Lord made with Noah after the Universal Flood.

#palmsunday #onthisday #aspassoconsara

Posted by Sara Pandozzi in ON THIS DAY, 0 comments


Spring equinox scheme (Source: www.haitiobserver.com)

Today, Tuesday 20 March, we welcome spring, the first of the four seasons of the year, whose arrival is marked by equinox (from the Latin aequinoctium, in turn derived from aequa nox, equal night), an astral phenomenon caused by the Earth’s revolutionary movement around the Sun and, as a result, determines a perfect division of day and night.
As is well known, this event occurs twice a year: between 19 and 21 March (spring equinox) and between 22 and 23 September (autumn equinox). The lack of a specific day is dictated, in both cases, by the inconsistency between the Gregorian calendar (the one introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1532) and the sidereal calendar.




Spring in the Ancient World

The kidnapping of Proserpina by Bernini at the Borghese Gallery of Rome (Source: resturars.altervista.org)

The origin of spring has always been linked as a very well known tale, the Greek myth of Proserpina.

Daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Persephone was a good and obedient girl. One day, while she was with her friends, she lost herself in a valley near Enna, in Sicily. The young woman asked for help, but no one heard her. It is said that suddenly the earth opened under her feet and that a cart appeared pulled by four black horses and led by Hades, his uncle and god of the underworld, who kidnapped her and took her with her into the abyss.
Demeter, having no news of her daughter, and, after receiving a rather sibilline response from Hecate, goddess of the night, decided to turn to the Sun, who I explain how, at the behest of Zeus, Persephone had been kidnapped by Hades.
Adid, Demeter refused to return to Mount Olympus and, abandoned the divine features and assumed those of a horrible old woman dressed in rags, she began wandering and from Sicily arrived at Eleusi, in Greece. Here, exhausted, she lay down on the ground and began to cry, until she was rescued by a woman who had pity on her and brought her to her home. After a series of events that marked the birth of Demeter’s cult to Elefsina, the goddess, still strongly tormented by the loss of her daughter, decided, with the touch of her hands, to make the land sterile and fruitless, causing, in this way, the death of many men. For this reason, Zeus, in order to save mankind, decided to come to terms with the raging goddess and sent Hermes from Hades so that Persephone could return to his mother. Hades agreed, however, on condition that the girl, while becoming his wife, could return to him and, to ensure that this return, Hades had her eaten grains of pomegranate. A law of Destiny established, in fact, that cjiunque had eaten some grains of this fruit in the house of her husband, would return to it. And so, Persephone returned to see the sunlight again and his mother Demeter to celebrate covered the land with flowers and fruit. Zeus, however, had to find a new compromise to satisfy both Demetra and Ade. He established, therefore, that the beautiful girl would live for two thirds of the year with her mother and the remaining third with her husband, Hades.





The symbolism of spring in the various cultures

The spring season marks the awakening from the winter months, the triumph of light over darkness and abundance over the sterility of the earth typical of the coldest months.

For these reasons, therefore, spring symbolizes a real rebirth that, full of symbolic meanings, has been celebrated, since the dawn of time, with a series of traditions, many of which have come down to our days. This is the case of Sham El Nessim, a festival of ancient Egypt, consisting of a kind of outdoor excursion in which eggs were also consumed (symbol of rebirth par excellence), is still today, among the great Egyptian holidays of our time.

The Christian world itself is also linked to the spring equinox, which not only coincides with the day of the Annunciation, but also represents the day on which the count for Easter Sunday, the feast of the Resurrection of Christ and the true heart of the liturgical year, is based. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon, simultaneous or subsequent to the March equinox. For this reason, therefore, Easter can be celebrated on 22nd March but never after 25th April.

A rebirth understood as new life, new cycle, new beginning, a sort of head to head that has pushed the populations of Ancient Mesopotamia or of Persian origin to set the beginning of the new year with the arrival of spring. The same zodiac begins with the sign of Aries, the reference constellation of the spring equinox.

holi festival in India (Source: newsly.it)

There are also many traditions and celebrations in the Asian world.
The Hindu religion celebrates today the holi, the feast of colours, a day in which the differences between castes are cancelled and the people poured out into the street to sing and dance all together, throwing colour pigment powders into the air.

Flowering Cherry Trees in Japan (Source: grechigiardini.it)

The arrival of spring is also very much felt in Japan, where, between March 20 and 21, is celebrated Shunbun No Hi, a special day that is part of a longer period of celebration that lasts a week, commonly known as Spring Higan, consisting of a set of practices to follow (such as making offers, perseverance, diligence, wisdom etc.) to achieve happiness and fortune. The most famous show of the Japanese spring is, without doubt, that of the flowering cherry trees, whose petals are compared to the life of the samurai, short, but intense.



Posted by Sara Pandozzi in ON THIS DAY, 0 comments
Happy Birthday Italy!

Happy Birthday Italy!


Torino, 17 Marzo 1861:  Vittorio Emanuele II assumes the title of King of Italy for himself and his successors.

With these words, Parliament and the Chamber of Deputies sanctioned the birth of the Kingdom of Italy and placed it under the legitimate sovereignty of the Savoy family. Italy had been made and ended part of the “Risorgimento” (1815 – 1871), the cultural, ideological and literary, political and spiritual, economic and social movement, marked by the activity of many statesmen (Camillo Benso di Cavour, Francesco Crispi, Vincenzo Gioberti), thinkers and patriots (Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Fratelli Bandiera, just to name a few), following which, the Italian peninsula, under the pressure of European nationalism, was preparing to become a unitary state, free from the yoke of the foreigner.

The Italy of Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878), territorially speaking, was, however, far from that of today. It did not include the Veneto, at the time under the dominion of the Habsburg Empire and annexed in 1866, nor Trento and Trieste, added, however, after the end of the First World War (between 1918 and 1920). Lazio, the region of Rome, under the control of the Pope, was also missing from the appeal. For this reason, therefore, the first capital of the new Kingdom of Italy was Turin and not Rome, which became it only in 1870 (the year of the Breccia di Porta Pia).

The new political configuration chosen, that of the constitutional monarchy, was based on the Albertino Statute, the flexible constitution that Carlo Alberto di Savoia (1798-1849) had granted to the subjects of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1848, before his abdication. The king, the country’s supreme head, was at the top of the state. His person, as “sacred and inviolable”, could not be the subject of criminal sanctions. He had several prerogatives: he exercised executive power through ministers; he convened and dissolved the Chamber of Deputies and, if he thought that a law did not respond to the Crown’s plans, he could reject it (power of sanction of laws). He also decided on the government, while Parliament should confine itself to making laws. Although he brought together the executive, legislative and judicial powers, his monarchy could not be said to be absolute as it was limited by the Constitution.

In the exercise of his prerogatives, the king was, in fact, supported by Parliament, which was composed of two chambers: the Senate, which could not be dissolved and which was formed by members of directorial nomination in office for life; and the Chamber of Deputies, with members elected on a census basis and male, a single-member college and a double round of election.

The House of Savoy gave Italy four sovereigns: Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878), the “Galantuomo King”, who, as we have seen was the first King of Italy and the one who completed the unification process; his son Umberto I (1844-1900), the so-called “Good King”, killed in an attack in 1900; Vittorio Emanuele III (1869-1947), whose reign was the longest, having lasted 46 years (from 1900 to 1946) and having seen two world wars, the birth and collapse of Fascism and the achievement of the maximum extension of the Italian territorial boundaries.

In 1946, Vittorio Emanuele III abdicated in favour of his son, Umberto II, whom he had appointed, on 5 June 1944, after the Liberation of Rome, lieutenant general of the Kingdom. In this capacity, under pressure from the Allies, Umberto signed a decree on the basis of which, once the liberation of the Italian territory was completed, the new institutional forms would have been “chosen by the Italian people”. As king, Umberto renewed his promise to respect the will of the people, if the citizens had chosen the Republic instead of the monarchy. He was, however, engaged in an exhausting electoral campaign that, in a very short time, led him to cross much of Italy in search of numerous consents in favor of the monarchy. The referendum between the republic and the monarchy, to which women were also called to vote for the first time ever, took place on 2 June and on the morning of 3 June 1946. From the counting of the ballot papers, the Republic had a difference of advantage equal to about two million votes. Early rumours of alleged fraud in the counting of votes soon spread, leading the monarchists to lodge some appeals. The final results of the Referendum were proclaimed by the Court of Cassation on June 10, 1946: the Republic had won and Alcide de Gasperi on the night of June 12 summoned the Government after Umberto, in a letter written by the Quirinal, declared his intention to respect the will expressed by the people.

Thus ended the reign of Humbert II, which had become a historical king like the “King of May” (his reign was, in fact, very brief, lasting just over a month, from May 9, 1946 to June 10, 1946) and instead began a new page in Italian political history, that of the Constitutional Republic.


Posted by Sara Pandozzi in ON THIS DAY, 0 comments