The Meaning of Palm Trees

Here at Mission: Palm Trees

Palm lovers can get the info needed to ease their searching tasks. While enjoying our articles & having fun, without unneeded shoptalk lingo & tiring research.

The meaning of palm trees has models throughout history. Depending on where you're coming from:

  • Your own history, your interests & more. 
  • To see where the philosophical meaning of palm trees may take you.
  1. For instance, palms represent winning strength, but also peace. Why many nations choose it for their symbols.
  • he Spiritual Meaning of palm trees have varied significance depending on the religion. Most view the branch of a palm tree in terms of eternal life, or an afterlife. From there, individual sects use palm trees in their own ways.

How many ways are there to interpret the meaning of palm trees? We'll look at finding them. Choose your interest, or just roll on down.



Palm Tree Meanings in Ancient Times

The meaning of palm trees arose in the consciousness of people quite early. Likely because palm trees are some of the earliest plants to arise on the earth.

Early polytheistic religions brought the meaning of palm trees into connections with various gods, goddesses and symbolic representations.

For instance the Syrians called it their Sacred Tree. Ancient Mesopotamians held its meaning relating to fertility - not only for humans, but for palm trees producing dates.

Meaning of Palm Trees in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians noted palm trees. Particularly ancient palm species.

Like the useful Date Palm. With...

  • Newly formed fronds pointed upward
  • Those with daily life pointing outward
  • And dying palms leading downward. 

Those leaf configurations likely got them thinking of its symbolic nature. They considered that palm trees must have represented super-powers!

Egyptians viewed monkeys at a palm tree as meaning the daily rising of the Sun God, Ra.

Ra was the Egyptian creator of the heavens and earth. He also ruled as king of all other Egyptian gods. He was king of the deities and the father of all creation. He controlled power & light, and so controlled the sun. He was also viewed as the sun & therefore the daylight and the day.

Ancient Assyrian Meaning for Palm Trees

This early sample below shows King Ashurnasirpal, known as the last great king of Assyria.

He's pictured twice on either side of the Sacred Tree. Which you'll note is a stylized palm tree. Behind him on each side are protective spirits.

Meaning of Palm Trees
in Ancient Greece & Rome

HISTORICAL GREECE

Ancient Grecians recognized the palm tree as the enshrined representation of Apollo. That story is told in Homeric Hymns written to celebrate Greek gods and goddesses. Telling of Apollo's birth on Delos in the Greek Isles, under a palm tree.

That island soon became important to them as sacred area. Palm trees connect to Apollo of Delos, his victorious bravery, & their ancient religion & culture. We know this from many statues, pottery and awards discovered from relics of those times. 

CLASSIC ROMAN EMPIRE

The Romans used the meaning of palm trees to represent victories in multiple ways. Just seeing a palm frond meant some type of rising to the top. Like being triumphant in war, and then taking over power while making peace. Or these...

  • Winning a contest
  • Obtaining the top business outcome
  • Overcoming a foe in battle

The Meaning of Palm Trees to Religions

Religions that developed farther on also incorporated palm trees into their sacred meanings. As religions arose that switched to the belief in one god, they continued using palms in meaningful ways.

Christendom brought forward many ancient symbols and traditions. Including those relating to palm trees.

Palm Tree Meaning in Hebrew

The word for palm tree in Hebrew is: עץ דקל. But what was the meaning of palm trees, symbolically for the ancient Hebrews?

SUKKOT

The Jewish Commemoration of Sukkot, originated in the 10th Century BCE. The origins are based on harvest time festivities. To show appreciation for the crops' success and abundance.

The practices come from two ancient scriptures:

  • Biblical tradition from Leviticus 23:30
  • Talmudic tradition

FOUR SPECIES

Each of them mention the waving of the four species. In both traditions, the palm tree is mentioned for inclusion.

  • From Leviticus, branches of the palm trees are to be part of the waving. 
  • From the Talmud, it specifies the closed palm frond from a date palm tree, which is green & ripe.

For Sukkot, there are Specific Regulations. Many are strict, a few have some leeway. All to keep the event kosher.

The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, was always an important part of Jewish tradition, and regular survival. Discussed since biblical times of the old testament. Using the palm tree for many practical life comparisons.

Palm Tree Spiritual Meaning in Christianity

The ancient influence of palm trees was notable. Palm trees provided nourishment & life essentials. This regular feature in their lives brought early followers of Christianity to give diverse spiritual meaning for palm trees.

  • Martyrs for their faith often died holding palm fronds to show their soul's claim of victory over death. Their burials were marked with palms. Then palms were featured as a heavenly place - in heaven you'd be Amidst Palm Trees
  • Palm emblems were worn by crusaders, by pilgrims, by several religious orders, and given as recognition for a deed or accomplishment
  • Art within Christianity often used palms in varied décor
Entry To Jerusalem mosaic in PalermoMosaic in Polermo Italy Shows Jesus as he Returns to Jerusalem, Passing by a Palm Tree
Followers Pave His Way With Palm Branches

Palm Sunday

CATHOLICISM

If you were raised Catholic (we were!), or are a practicing Catholic now, you'll recall the yearly importance of Palm Fronds. Yes: Palm Sunday!

When I was a kid, I went to church & got a palm leaf. Never knowing or understanding why.

The priest we had never went into it. In fact, I think it mostly was all in Latin back then! (I'm aging myself - oh my!)

So what does it mean - I'm still wondering!

Palm Sunday Frond SelectionsPalms Arranged as Parishioners Exit Church, for Taking Home on Palm Sunday.

LET'S FIND OUT WHAT PALM SUNDAY MEANS!

In the Bible's new testament, all four gospels tell how Jesus had a celebrated arrival to Jerusalem. People there greeted him joyfully. Some waved palms around as he came into town.

Now the week before Easter, on Sunday, that celebration is memorialized. Symbolically recreated by giving out palm fronds to congregations. Families take a palm leaf. Bringing it with them to place in a religious area of their home.

Help your own kids, or those you teach, discover the meaning With Hands-On Craft Projects.

Yet it's not only for the Roman Catholic religion.

ORTHODOX CATHOLICS

Orthodox Catholic sects, the Anglican, Lutheran & Methodist Churches all participate in using palms for spiritual meanings on Palm Sunday.

REFORM CHRISTIANS

The Moravian Church (Unity of Brethren) also celebrates this as preparation for next week's Easter holy day. Other reform Christian churches also do the same.

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The Meaning of Palm Trees to Islam

In many desert regions of the Middle East, water's find was essential. Spotting a palm tree grove in the desert meant water was available. Islam's beginnings were in those desert areas.

Thus they associated palm trees as a gift from Allah. Who was showing the way to life sustenance.

Other ways in which Islamic religion denotes palm trees:

IN THE QURAN

  • Throughout the Quran, palms are noted in paradise's gardens.
  • The Quran has the story of Jesus's birth under a date palm tree.

IN GEOGRAPHY

  • One Islamic tradition foretold the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem had a palm tree foundation nurtured by one of the four sacred rivers mentioned in Genesis.
  • A saint in Islam, Wad Hamid, is symbolically associated with the Doum Palm (Hyphaene thebaica). A town in Sudan is named for him.

FOR WORSHIP

  • Islamic faithful calling to prayer has palm tree significance in tradition. Since the first mosques were outdoor areas. 
  1. It began with the caller (muezzin) climbing a palm tree to be heard across the town. 
  2. That formed a basis for building the minaret.

The founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad appeared to have an affinity for palm trees:

  • Tradition says his home was built from palm trees. 
  • When speaking to groups of people, he often did so under a palm tree, leaning against its trunk. For its cooling and restive effects.
  • He promoted the first mosque structure. The framework was of palm trunks. A roof was attached to the top, likely made of palm fronds.

Palm Tree Civil Designations

Rulers like to associate their stance with power, but also providers of peace. The meanings for palm trees gave them opportunities to display this association in coins, awards, emblems and symbols.

COINAGE

As early as 2500 BCD in ancient Phoenicia, the palm tree was used as their symbol. They portrayed palms on their coins.

  • Several primarily Muslim countries use palms motifs with their money.
  • In Tunisia, the coins are in millimes and dinars. Bank notes are in dinars.
  1. The One Dinar coin relates to agriculture, showing a tractor in front of a palm tree
  • Iraq has also produced coins featuring palms
  • Roman coinage often featured palms.
  1. The coin below honors a Roman Imperial Emperor. Its reverse shows robust Victory with a trophy staff, holding a palm frond with the left arm.

ROMAN CULTURE

Ancient Rome incorporated palm trees into their life with cultural meaning. How?

  • A legend surrounds Julius Caesar as he first came to power. A full growth palm tree suddenly arose with his defeat of Pompey.
  • A toga design that included palms was called the Toga Palmata. Reserved for those in charge of winning two or more military campaigns.
  1. Considered formal wear, for ceremonies and official meetings.

STATE FLAG

South Carolina's state flag uses the palmetto palm tree along with a crescent. Making us wonder: what is the palm tree and crescent moon meaning?

  • The Palmetto palm is based on the original flag designed by Revolutionary War Colonel William Moultrie. Its meaning was to memorialize how he led troops against the British. Successfully defending the Sullivan's Island palmetto log fort. 
  • The crescent doesn't represent the moon. What the Crescent Means is replicating the silver emblem  on Moultrie's infantrymen's beaver caps.

FEDERAL BUILDINGS

One building in Washington D.C. with a representation for the meaning of palm trees is the US Capitol. Above the rotunda doors is a bas-relief panel dedicated to the first president, George Washington.

Angels Crown Him

  • To his right, while holding a palm branch for peace.
  • On his left is an angel with a trumpet announcing his fame.

Alluding to Palm Tree Meanings

MOTTOS OR SAYINGS

Famed British Navy officer, Lord Nelson, used these terms on the family coat of arms (in Latin): "Palmam qui meruit ferat."

  • In English, inferring the meaning palm trees: Let him bear the palm who has deserved it.
  • Other entities in modern times also use this motto.

In countries where Arabic is spoken, there's a saying. Or maybe a reference using a figure of speech.

  • In Arabic it's فوق النخل, or Fog al-Nakhal. Literally meaning "above the palm trees."
  • Figuratively it speaks of experiencing euphoria, extreme delight, or total fulfillment.

EARTHLY TROPICAL PARADISE

Multiple countries or territories have Native Palm Species. Many use a Palm Tree on their flags, official seals & government emblems. For instance:

Vintage USC Official SealVintage Seal from 1948 - University of Southern California

Other Palm Tree Meanings

Palm trees are beloved by many, whether they live in the tropical areas where they naturally grow, or where they can grow with some assistance, or even where it's just impossible for them to grow.

The meaning of palm trees takes a part into their lives. They express this affection in various ways:

  • They like wearing jewelry to express their own view of the meaning of palm trees.
  • The may even have Palm Fronds as decor around their patio or deck bar. To evoke the meaning of a tropical realm. Whether it's figuring Palms vs Coconut Trees. Or something else.
  • Some have heard an alluring attraction for the palm. Wondering what the palm tree delight meaning has.
  • Many people love getting tattoos. And consider palms for the design. But first they like to be sure about what the palm tree meaning is in a tattoo.
  • Using emojis is now a lot more common. They're used in varied ways: Text messages help ensure their intent is understood. Palm emoji options exist, for fun. 
  1. Some wonder if there's more there than meets the eye. Thinking maybe there's a palm tree emoji meaning sneaking up on them!
  2. But really it means just what you think - relating to the tropics, to a tropical beach vacation, or having relaxing summer fun.

Takeaways for Meanings of Palm Trees

Through the ages of humanity, palms have been noted. People began associating different & varies meanings for them. Governments use them in a variety of ways since ancient times. Religions use them, as well.

For many, especially in modern times, they evoke a calming feel - for the Zen they bring, or in anticipation of a vacation to a tropical resort.

What take on the meaning of palm trees sings to you?

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