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Palm Sunday in Elche, Spain. NTDTV Apr 13, 2009 We go to a small town in Spain, where Easter has been celebrated since medieval times. This place is unique in producing palm fronds for its easter …More
Palm Sunday in Elche, Spain.

NTDTV Apr 13, 2009 We go to a small town in Spain, where Easter has been celebrated since medieval times. This place is unique in producing palm fronds for its easter procession. Our NTD Olga Martinez has the story.
STORY:
The Spanish town of Elche kicks off Easter Week with its traditional Palm Sunday Procession.

Hundreds of Christian believers join the parade to reenact the day when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.

Religious Brotherhoods have passed down this Easter tradition from one generation to the next.

[Valentin Canton,Brotherhood President]:
This Brotherhood was founded here in Elche in 1581, and started off the procession tradition of Palm Sunday.

Believers carry local palm fronds during the procession.

[Angel-Luis Zafrilla, Brotherhood Captain]:
Elche is the national symbol of Palm Sunday due to its unique connection to palm cultivation and the making of traditional palm fronds.

Elche, called the City of Palms, is the only place in the world that produces and exports these unique hand-crafted palm fronds.

Blanched palm leaves are woven to create complex shapes that evoke the Holy Week's tradition.

This medieval craft was passed down from generation to generation of palm farmers. But the young ones were not learning from the elders and so an official palm crafting school was created to keep this art alive.

[Conchi Rodriguez, Palm Crafting Teacher]:
Some palm farmers' family members are getting really old and the others are not interested at all in handing down the palm-making tradition."

It's not easy to make this palm leaves white. The farmers have to climb to the top of the trees and cover all the leaves with a sack. That way they dont process sunlight. After a few months they have to climb up again to harvest the whittened palms.

In the old days people had to climb without protection.

This former palm farmer's brother became handicapped from a fall.

[Francisco Molla, Former Palm Farmer]:
My brother is 81 years old and hes been incapacitated for the last forty years ever since he fell off a palm tree. This would never happen nowadays.

Elche is also reknown for its Palm Grove. With its two hundred thousand palm trees, it is considered the largest palm forest in Europe.

Olga Martinez, NTD, Elche, Spain
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Palm Sunday in Elche, Spain
The Sunday before Holy Week
The day’s main act is the Palm Procession which in Elche is of especial significance due to the large number of blanched palm leaves produced in the city’s palm groves and borne through the streets by the faithful.
The procession, commemorating Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, has always had a large following and has become one of …More
Palm Sunday in Elche, Spain
The Sunday before Holy Week
The day’s main act is the Palm Procession which in Elche is of especial significance due to the large number of blanched palm leaves produced in the city’s palm groves and borne through the streets by the faithful.
The procession, commemorating Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, has always had a large following and has become one of the most characteristic and popular expressions of Elx’s cultural identity.
The first documented evidence concerning Diumenge de Rams, Palm Sunday, dates from 1371, when the Consell de la Vila, or Town Council, took part in the celebrations, distributing alms.
Trade in blanched palm leaves was documented in an entry in the Town Hall records from 1492 and it has continued to the present day. For centuries blanched palm leaves from Elche have been exported to the entire Catholic world.
Special mention must be made of the woven palm leaves that are entered in the competition organised by the Council of Holy Week Guilds and Brotherhoods. These leaves depict complex figures related to the events of Holy Week or Elche’s monuments and traditions.
In the Palm Groove Museum, Elche Town Hall has instituted a Blanched Palm Leaf Craft Workshop. The objective of the initiative is to ensure the survival of traditions and crafts related to Elche’s palm grove.
Elche’s Palm Sunday was declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest on July 14th 1988 and a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest on July 22nd 1997.
www.turismedelx.com/en/fiestas/7/Domingo_de_Ramos