willow


willow
   Vickery (1995: 399-401) points out the biblical basis of the sadness and grief associated with the tree in England:
   By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion There on the willow trees we hung our harps (Psalm 137) but continues by saying that these would not actually have been willows at all, but poplars.
   It is possible that the original translators of the King James Bible were led to use the word willow by already existing English traditions connecting willows and weeping. Certainly the shape of the tree is sufficient to explain its epithet. Two poems by *Herrick (Hesperides (1648)) confirm the willow as a symbol of sadness and lost love. See also Lean (1903: ii. 638) and Hazlitt (1905: 621-2) for numerous similar quotations from 16th- and 17th-century literary sources.
   Willow also features in a number of other beliefs, recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries only: it is unlucky to burn its wood, willow blossom must not be brought into the house, except on May Day, and no animal or child should be hit with a willow twig or stick because that would stop them growing afterwards (Opie and Tatem, 1989: 446-7; Leather, 1912: 19). The willow stick is a central feature of a traditional song called 'The Bitter Withy', collected a number of times in England in the early years of the 20th century, in which Jesus as a boy tries to play with other children but they refuse to have anything to do with a carpenter's son. He builds a rainbow and runs across it and when the others try it they fall and are injured or killed. Mary beats Jesus with a willow stick (or 'sally twig') and Jesus curses the twig. The main elements of the story have been traced to the Apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, but the willow motif is a later addition (Leather, 1912: 181-6; FolkLore 19 (1908), 190-200).
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 446-7; Lean, 1903: ii. 638.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • Willow — Wil low, n. [OE. wilowe, wilwe, AS. wilig, welig; akin to OD. wilge, D. wilg, LG. wilge. Cf. {Willy}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) Any tree or shrub of the genus {Salix}, including many species, most of which are characterized often used as an… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • WILLOW — (Heb. עֲרָבָה, aravah). The Bible describes the willow as a tree that grows rapidly near water (Isa. 44:4) and in whose shade the behemoth reclines (Job 40:22). The exiles from Judea hung their harps on willows by the rivers of Babylon, loath to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Willow — Willow, AK U.S. Census Designated Place in Alaska Population (2000): 1658 Housing Units (2000): 1530 Land area (2000): 684.817388 sq. miles (1773.668818 sq. km) Water area (2000): 8.042330 sq. miles (20.829537 sq. km) Total area (2000):… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • willow — [wil′ō] n. [ME wilwe < OE welig, akin to Du wilg < IE base * wel , to turn, twist, bend > Gr helix, spiral, helikē, willow] 1. a) any of a genus (Salix) of trees and shrubs of the willow family, having usually narrow leaves, single,… …   English World dictionary

  • Willow — Wil low, v. t. To open and cleanse, as cotton, flax, or wool, by means of a willow. See {Willow}, n., 2. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Willow, AK — U.S. Census Designated Place in Alaska Population (2000): 1658 Housing Units (2000): 1530 Land area (2000): 684.817388 sq. miles (1773.668818 sq. km) Water area (2000): 8.042330 sq. miles (20.829537 sq. km) Total area (2000): 692.859718 sq. miles …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Willow, OK — U.S. town in Oklahoma Population (2000): 114 Housing Units (2000): 66 Land area (2000): 0.264673 sq. miles (0.685499 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.264673 sq. miles (0.685499 sq. km) FIPS code …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Willow — (Zauseler), eine dem Wolf (s.d. 4) ähnliche u. deshalb oft ebenfalls Wolf genannte Maschine der Baumwollspinnerei, bei welcher aber die Trommel statt der zahlreichen spitzen Zähne nur vier Reihen 4 bis 5 Zoll langer, stumpfer eiserner Stifte u.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Willow — f English: from the tree, Old English welig, noted for its grace and the pliancy of its wood …   First names dictionary

  • willow — O.E. welig, from P.Gmc. *walg (Cf. O.S. wilgia, M.Du. wilghe, Du. wilg), probably from PIE *wel to turn, roll, with derivatives referring to curved, enclosing objects. The change in form to ow (14c.) paralleled that of BELLOW (Cf. bellow) and… …   Etymology dictionary

  • willow — ► NOUN ▪ a tree or shrub which typically grows near water, has narrow leaves and pliant branches, and bears catkins. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary