The Dogwood Tree and its Legend

One of the most beautiful sights that grace the landscape during spring is the dogwood tree. The dogwood tree is one of my favorite trees.

Pink-dogwood-tree-spring-bloom_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWander_1_1024x1024

Photo Credit: https://www.fast-growing-trees.com

To many gardeners, dogwoods are the most beautiful of all flowering trees. These delightful trees often begin to blossom when they are only 4 to 6 feet tall, and their spectacular flowers are so tough that they often stay colorful for three or four weeks, twice as long as the blossoms on other trees. But the flowers are not the trees’ only attributes, for dogwoods have other traits that extend their usefulness well beyond the flowering season. The white or pink flowers are followed by bright red fruits, which are relished by birds; the dark green leaves of summer turn deep orange in autumn, and the horizontal tiers of branches are attractive throughout the year. Even during winter, the upturned ends of the twigs look interesting, since they are tipped with fat greenish buds that will become the next season’s flowers. Dogwoods usually grow from 6 to 8 feet with an equal spread in about five years.

I had a palmetto tree on my front lawn that I never liked. Last fall, it looked so bad, I told the HOA landscaper to take it down. At some point, I thought of getting a magnolia tree, but then a fellow gardener told me to be prepared to rake the leaves all the time. That made me go for a dogwood tree instead.

I bought a small dogwood tree from Fast Growing Trees, which I planted during one of those warm days in the Fall. In late December, I called the supplier and told them that the tree lost all its leaves and looked dead. They assured me it was OK. We’ll see how it does this season.

There is a legend to the dogwood tree.

At the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering said to it:

“Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossom shall be in the form of a cross. . . two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns and all who see it will remember.”

Dogwood Flower

Photo Credit: https://www.fast-growing-trees.com

So if you have a space in your yard, plant a dogwood tree. You’ll love it. I planted a Cherokee Brave Dogwood.

Holy Week in the Philippines

When I was growing up in the Philippines, during Cuaresma (Holy Week), from Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) to Pasko ng Pagkabuhay (Easter Sunday), Catholic rites in the Philippines were infused with special fervor. It was a time for street pageantry and spiritual cleansing with processions, flagellantes, and passion plays.

On Palm Sunday, the devouts brought palm branches to church to be blessed as symbols of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In rural areas, the palms might be dried and ground as a medicinal ingredient. Ceremonies reenacting the washing of the feet of the apostles were held in churches on Holy Thursday and Good Friday was a very solemn day. It was also marked by a vigil and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In churches, priests expounded on Christ’s seven last words spoken on the cross. During Lent, tradition calls for Passion, a book of verses from the creation of man through Christ’s resurrection was read or sung either by an individual or a group as a devotional prayer.

Easter Sunday marked the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the purple cloth of mourning was removed from the religious images. Church bells pealed and alleluias were sung. The salubong (meeting) took place. The Easter celebration started at dawn around five o’clock with a procession heralding the resurrection of Christ and his reunion with Mary. After the mass at dawn, twin processions left the church led by statues of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, and the Resurrected Christ and followed by women and men, respectively. The two processions went on opposite direction around the town plaza and then meet in front of the church on the way back.

As choruses were sung, the statues “met”, meaning placed side by side beneath an arch adorned with flowers in front of the church. A little girl dressed as an angel, with wings and a halo, will remove Mary’s black veil with a long handled hook. Its removal was connected with superstitions about the harvest (e.g. a smooth unveiling meant a good harvest, a fallen veil drought). It put so much pressure on the little girl who was doing the honor. I used to participate in this tradition. It was one of the most memorable days of my growing up years.