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The art of palm weaving is alive and well in Puerto Rico, as it is in many parts of the world. With an abundance of natural materials, i.e. the palm tree, there is always the base material available to start the next project.
Palm weaving is the folding and weaving of strips of palm leaves (also called fronds). You can make anything you like weaving palm; but, there is a tradition of making religious symbols representing Easter.
The Religious Tradition
The custom of blessing “palm” branches has its origin in the gospel account of the triumphant entry of Christ Jesus into the city of Jerusalem amid the palm waving Hebrews. Blessed “palms” are also a Christian symbol of victory and date back to the year 700 A.D.
The palm has become associated with the blessing of the home. Their religious significance is one of hope and belief in life after death. When offered as gifts, they symbolize love and friendship through Christ.
The Tropical Tradition
Anything can be made with palm fronds, and in Puerto Rico you will find artist weaving more htan just crosses. The most popular are calabash bowls, hats, and smaller items like roses and birds.
Curing and Travelling with Fronds
You can indeed bring them back with you to US, but they must be cured. To do this, they need to be put in a freezer for 24 hours. That will help kill any remaining bugs and help it cure at an equal rate.
I’ve personally had some palm calabash bowls for about 8 years now and they are still in great condition!