This pano shows a white palm plaiting scene in the city of Elche, where palm fronds have been traditionally handcrafted into a diversity of forms to create ornamental bouquets.
One particular and unique use of the locally extended palm tree has been the transformation of its leaves into decorative palm branches. This is a yearly process that starts by tying and hooding palm leaves in place for months. The lack of sunlight during this time lightens the palm leaves that are later pruned, cleaned and classified according to height. Finally, the resulting palm leaves are kept in humid chambers and treated with sulphur to obtain the characteristic and so called "white palm." Some of these white palms are further handcrafted in order to create ornamental white palm bouquets. These white palms and bouquets are basically produced for the celebration of the Holy Week Palm Sunday and are exported all over Spain and Europe.
White palm dries out quite fast once it gets in contact with air. This makes its use quite limited in time. Once it has dried, it is normally disposed off and the whole process starts again for next year. The cultivation and transformation of palm fronds for these purposes is a custom business that has been run for centuries by some local families who normally deal with all the stages in the process.
The final plaiting of white palm fronds results in diverse artistic creations that are finally shown in Palm Sunday parades. Every year the celebration of The White Palm Contest selects the best pieces. The number of participants with white palms and the quality of the bouquets, have made the Elche Palm Sunday Parade considered as a Festivity of International Tourist Interest.
Special thanks to the Navarro-Hidalgo family, already in its fifth generation, for letting me share some minutes with them during a plaiting afternoon. Picture location by Sonia Zamora-Amorós. Picture production by Antonio V. Garcia-Serrano.