Human Flower Project
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Birches at Pentecost
In the Orthodox Church, Holy Trinity (50 days after Easter) is draped with the greenery of birch boughs.
Pentecost 2012, at Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Seattle, Washington: the church is decorated with birch branches and flowers in observance of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
Photo: Erika Schultz/Seattle Times
In the Protestant denomination of our raising – the Episcopal Church – Pentecost meant an outpouring of red Sunday outfits and searing reference to the apostles’ “tongues of fire.” In the Eastern Orthodox faith, Pentecost – better known as Trinity Sunday – is green.
The Orthodox clergy wear green vestments shot through with golden threads, and churches are generously festooned with boughs of birch. Clusters of the spring leaves, heart shaped and serrated, stand in windows, adorn pulpits, and surround icons. In some parishes, stems of birch are scattered over the church floors, too. It’s as if the Holy Spirit descended not as fire but wind, shredding the trees outside and gusting them into the nave.