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RUSSIAN HOLIDAYS / EASTER-PASCHA


The Legends of Easter

Legend Of The Dogwood Legend of Easter Lily

   The are many beantifnl Easter legends abont the flowers which bloom in the spring. As people looked at these flowers and thought about Easter, they made up stories to explain how the blossoms related to the death of ]esus. Two of these legends are about the dogwood and the lily.

The Legend Of The Dogwood

   Long, long ago, when Jesus walked upon the earth, the dogwood tree was tall and proud. Its trunk was as large around as an oak tree and its wood was hard and strong.
Near the city of Jerusalem grew an especially lovely dogwood tree. When Jesus was to be crucified, the Roman soldiers looked at the tree and decided it would be just the right kind of wood for a cross. They cut down the tree and made a cross for Jesus.
But the dogwood tree was very sad and ashamed to be put to such a terrible use. Jesus knew the tree was very unhappy and he felt sorry for it. He promised the dogwood that it would never again grow large enough to be used as a cross. And then, to give the world a reminder of the tree's history, Jesus gave it a very special blossom. This blossom would be a sign of Jesus' death.
That is why the dogwood's four white petals form the shape of a cross. On the outer edge of each petal there is a dark red stain, as a reminder that Jesus was offered on the cross for forgiveness of sins. And in the center of each bloom is a tiny crown of thorns.

The Legend of Easter Lily

   In the Garden of Gethsemane, there were many beautiful flowers, but the loveliest of all was the pure white lily. The lily knew it was very beautiful, and it proudly lifted its head to show itself to anyone who happened to pass by the garden.
On the night before he was crucified, Jesus came into the quiet Garden of Gethsemane to pray. As he prayed and wept there, the flowers of the garden bowed their heads in pity and sorrow too. But the proud lily would not bow its lovely white head. The next day, the lily discovered that Jesus was going to be crucified. The flower felt so miserable about how it had acted in the garden that it bowed its head in shame. To honor the Lord Jesus and to show its sorrow, the lily has grown with a down-turned blossom ever since that first Good Friday of long, long ago.




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