Thoughts On the Use of Palms in Churches

Well-placed areca palms that remain green year-round can add a touch of elegance to the sacred liturgy and can help add color to any auspicious worship space. Palms evoke Biblical imagery and sometimes they are even depicted in frescoes and murals. Historically, palm plants have been used for centuries to decorate the inside of churches and sanctuaries. They bring to mind the life of Christ in the Holy Land and their fan-like patterns and fronds are often depicted in vestment patterns. Art imitates nature. Palms gel with all types of interiors, and they add a certain comfort to the worship space.  

When I was a boy I would sometimes accompany my grandfather who managed the flowers at his downtown parish. He was very fond of palms.  They were cost effective, and hearty. The palms he arranged had been in the same sanctuary for many years. He explained to me that even when he was a boy, serving at the same altar 70 years before, there were palms decorating the same worship space.  

Palms are low-maintenance. They need little water, periodic pruning, and no direct sunlight. They also purify the air and increase oxygen when they absorb carbon dioxide from the surrounding air and release more oxygen, adding a freshness to any space. Palm plants therefore absorb and eliminate toxic air pollutants. Studies have shown that having green plants in a home, workplace, or worship space can reduce anxiety and uplift the soul.

As an afterthought, the natural benefits of real palms in church bring to mind in some ways the value of beeswax candles - such candles actually clean the air when burned. While negative ions circulate in the air space and attract pollutants (such as dust, odors, smoke, molds, bacteria, viruses and other toxins), they are captured by the burning beeswax and neutralized. Beeswax candles burn brighter, hotter, longer, and cleaner than other paraffin candles.  They, too, are all natural.  

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