Pussy Willows

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SOLSC Day 17

The pussy willows in our yard are really bursting forth.

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I have mentioned before how in the Byzantine Church we bless willows as well as palm on Palm Sunday.  This tradition started in the Ukraine.  In the Ukraine, palm was not available so the pussy willow was substituted because it was the first blossoming plant of spring.

In looking at our willows and remembering how we carried them and got them blessed in church I started wondering about how the pussy willow got its name.  Several sites cite this legend of how pussy willows came to be. This one comes from http://www.moggies.co.uk/html/legends.html.

Legend :

According to an old Polish legend, many springtimes ago a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river in which her kittens were drowning. The willows at the river’s edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies. The kittens gripped on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore. Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.  Ever since then, in Spring, the willow-without-a-flower decks itself out in gentle velvet buds that feel to the fingers like the silky coat of a small cat. These buds are known today as catkins and remarkably, in every country, these soft willow trees are named after cats.

Last year we had the bush cut back so far that I wasn’t sure we would have any willows this year.  We do.  I just might cut some and bring them into the house.  I look forward to the blooming willows each Spring.

As a side note, when we moved from our old house in Pottsville here to Hegins we brought a cutting from the pussy willow we had planted there.  The picture at the top of this post shows what that one planted branch grew into.

 

34 Comments

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34 responses to “Pussy Willows

  1. Thank you for sharing. Legends are so fascinating. Regards

  2. margaretsmn

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pussy willow. Thanks for the pictures and the story.

  3. I had no idea. Now you have me asking a million questions about the pussy willow.

  4. Thank you for taking me back to my childhood! We had a pussy willow in our backyard that I loved! Pussy willows always remind me of spring. Now I know the legend, too.

  5. We, too, had pussy willows in Illinois where I grew up, but can’t say that I’ve seen any here in Arkansas. Love the legend – thanks for sharing.

  6. Love that legend! As a kid, I thought pussy willows were the coolest plant. There would always be an activity in school where we glued the furry bud to paper. I am amazed at your plant! You must have a green thumb.

  7. I love pussy willows, and also associate them with church, as a Sunday school teacher gave each of us a cutting one year, and it turned into a huge plant at my parents old home. I love the way you start with the church blessing and then do some research for us. I really enjoy how you taught us the sweet story of their name, within the context of what they mean to you over the years. And I love the information that in every country they are named after cats!

  8. I was thinking about pussy willows the other day and wondering how they got their name. That’s such a sweet story, thanks for sharing it!

  9. I love, LOVE pussy willows, but they are very rare in my part of the world. Love how you wove your family experience with the legend and the accompanying lovely photos. Interesting to learn you are of Ukrainian heritage. Any way you could sent me a shoot?

    • I would love to send you a shoot. I need to go to the post office on Monday so I will ask if this can be done and how to do it. If you want to send me your address I will send you some cuttings if possible. You can send it to my email: arjeha@gmail.com.

  10. Wow! I didn’t know this! Love how you took pictures, stories, and facts and put them all together!

    • I have always been fascinated by folklore so when I decided on pussy willows for today’s topic I decided to see what I could find out about them. I didn’t know this story until I read it.

  11. Thank you for this post, the story of the Pussy Willow sounds so familiar, something I once knew but had forgotten. I feel like I used to sing a little song about the pussy willow, I’ll have to look that one up!

  12. From one cutting. Wow! Thank you for helping my background knowledge grow through your post.

  13. Oh, thanks for being my ‘learn something new’ of the day. I adore that legend. All that growth from one cutting – wow.

    • I am so glad that cutting took hold. This is a French willow which is a bit larger than the regular pussy willow. If the cutting hadn’t taken hold I would have lost this. I haven’t seen any of these willows in the garden center since we bought it 20 plus years ago.

  14. As a girl, we always saw pussy willows in the spring. I think I’m too far north now. Too bad. You slice brought all those happy memories back.

  15. Thank you for including the legend in your description of your traditions. I learned something fascinating reading your post, and I love your phots.

  16. I love pussy willow and I just saw some on Friday, valiantly bursting forth above the snow! I didn’t realize that it would transplant so well. I might just need to go beg my neighbor’s for a cutting. I love the legend you shared. I had researched pussy willows a couple of years ago and found it then, and was inspired to write a poem about it. (Here’s the link in case you’re
    interested: https://mbhmaine.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/pussy-willow/)

  17. Thanks for this – my Mother had a Pussy Willow tree. I miss them. I have not noticed them out yet here in Minn. but will keep me eye out now. I may have to plant on this year.

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