Author Topic: Throwing flower petals  (Read 3940 times)

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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Throwing flower petals
« on: October 15, 2008, 03:18:03 PM »

Hello all,

We have our bishops visiting our parish this coming weekend.  It is our church's feast day celebration.  We haven't had a bishop visit in something like 8 years, so today's "kids" hardly remember the last visit.  Preparations have been going on for weeks...from cleaning, and polishing, and decorating...to having the kids learn poems and official greetings, etc.  It's going to be a formal, catered affair.

We hung huge flower wreaths on the front gates.  We have ordered blue engraved ribbons (to pin to lapels and later use as bookmarks, etc) and were planning on hanging blue "pew" bows to extend the theme. 

We were also planning on having little girls walk before the hierarchs upon their arrival outside to the church and throw rose petals along the sidewalk.  As I recall it's always been done.  This summer when I attended the consecration services of one of these bishops, rose petals were strewn all the way down the street from the priest's house to the church doors.

Now, I've been told it's a pagan, unchristian tradition and is forbidden (as are the pew bows).  They are not in the "spirit of the occasion".

Is this true?  Is throwing flower petals a non-Christian tradition?

My argument "for" the flower petals was that Christ upon entering Jerusalem, was greeted by people throwing greenery (palms) at His feet. 

I will do as my parish president insists because I don't want to be the cause of any additional strife within our parish - we have enough of that already.  However, I just want to know your opinions/thoughts on the un-Christian nature of throwing flower petals.



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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2008, 03:23:58 PM »
^I agree with you that throwing petals is very Christian and normal. There is nothing particularly "pagan" in this custom. I would love to see it done in my parish.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2008, 03:39:19 PM »
The Greek Typicon states that laural leaves or other fragrant leaves are to be strewn by the Priest through the Church on Holy Saturday, so I don't think one can say the practice is "pagan".
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Offline Rosehip

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2008, 04:12:15 PM »
Personally, I find the idea of throwing rose petals in someone's path a lovely and romantic idea. However, what I struggle with somewhat to this day (as a result of spending most of my life in a church which emphasized the priesthood of all believers), is the pomp, the trimmings, the crowns, the red carpets, the limos etc. which I have seen attending the hierarchs. I still tend to feel it idolizes the bishops to a certain degree, and feel they should be simple, humble men of God who shun all this sort of attention. But I realize this is part of Orthodox (and perhaps, in this case, specifically Ukrainian?) tradition, and people want to honour their leaders in this way.

Please forgive me if I offend-such is not my desire. I'm simply slowly trying to come to terms with these ideas-it really  takes time for me.
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Offline username!

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2008, 04:54:29 PM »
Personally, I find the idea of throwing rose petals in someone's path a lovely and romantic idea. However, what I struggle with somewhat to this day (as a result of spending most of my life in a church which emphasized the priesthood of all believers), is the pomp, the trimmings, the crowns, the red carpets, the limos etc. which I have seen attending the hierarchs. I still tend to feel it idolizes the bishops to a certain degree, and feel they should be simple, humble men of God who shun all this sort of attention. But I realize this is part of Orthodox (and perhaps, in this case, specifically Ukrainian?) tradition, and people want to honour their leaders in this way.

Please forgive me if I offend-such is not my desire. I'm simply slowly trying to come to terms with these ideas-it really  takes time for me.

The Bishop is the sacramental presence of Christ, an apostle for the present times. We treat him with respect and ceremony because of what he symbolizes.  By symbolize I mean that which transcends into Heavens and the Earth.  It has nothing to do with idolization or stardom.  The Bishop has been chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead his flock.  The Bishop has been set aside and chosen to take up great responsibilities in guiding his lay people, priests, deacons, nuns and monks and inquirers/catechumens.  In the Divine Liturgy the priest collectively prays "For His Eminence ________ that he may rightfully dispense the Word of Truth".  The Bishop is the man responsible for ensuring that the Word of Truth,  the Deposit of Faith is taught to those entrusted to his care.  He is the chief priest and that is why his priests must use antimens when celebrating Divine Liturgy, nothing is done without the Bishop. 
We give him honor and carry out these traditions because of his position, who he represents, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

modified for grammar
« Last Edit: October 15, 2008, 04:56:23 PM by username! »

Offline SolEX01

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2008, 10:58:07 PM »
I've seen little children put down rose petals in advance of the Ecumenical Patriarch live (in New Jersey) and in pictures (in Baltimore - 1997).  It's not pagan.   ;)

Edited for spelling - arrgghhhh....
« Last Edit: October 16, 2008, 01:44:08 AM by SolEX01 »

Offline thetraditionalfrog

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2008, 11:15:42 PM »
Several years ago I met my bishop, Metropolitan JOSEPH (Bulgarian), for the first time whilst helping out at my parish. I was the first to greet him as I happened to be outside the church entry at that particular moment. He walked humbly from a small car in the car park, approached me and inquired if indeed he had reached the right parish. I answered in the affirmative then asked his blessing. I then brought him in to the church and started to direct him to my priest. He mentioned that he wanted to go to the church for a moment before seeing Father. Thus, I helped him with his bags (I carried the case that held his klobuk). I showed him to the church. We prayed for a moment the I took him to see Father.

No, limos, escorts or rose petals. He was very much a simple monastic, not at all like what I had been thinking. As an aside, I think he also resembles St John Maximovitch.

As for rose petals, that indeed seems to be a custom in many Orthodox parishes for receiving a bishop. I'm not sure of the actual meaning or origin but it is definitely no longer pagan, if indeed it ever was. Surely, if it were problematic, the bishops would have spoken out against it long ago.

As long as a customs dosen't take on a life of its own or become superstitious there should be no problem. Amongst many Serbs there is a custom of wearing a bracelet style brojanica (chotki or prayerope). This is fine as long as the practise doesn't lapse in to the above problems. It can serve as a reminder we're Orthodox Christians and even serve as a reminder to pray and avoid sin.

In my opinion, it would be wise to discontinue or call off the practise if it proves to be divisive with in the parish. There are other ways to show honor and respect to your bishop.

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Offline Salpy

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Re: Throwing flower petals
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2008, 12:05:36 AM »


My argument "for" the flower petals was that Christ upon entering Jerusalem, was greeted by people throwing greenery (palms) at His feet. 




Kids in the Indian Church still do that on Palm Sunday:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9840.msg230554.html#msg230554

(post 131)

There's nothing pagan about it. 

I would imagine that since the bishop is an icon of Christ (at least that is what I've been told) it should be OK to honor him with rose petals when he comes to a parish.  We don't have that custom in my Church, but we have a nice procession when he enters a parish church, with incense, etc.