Friday, April 18, 2014

#81 Legend of the Dogwood (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

Dogwood blossoms on Good Friday
My favorite local Easter legend is #81 on the list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the entire list as it is unveiled.

The beautiful dogwood tree is one of the best things about spring in the Deep South. The little trees shed their leaves in the winter after offering a beautiful burst of fall red color, but then in the spring they bloom with an incomparable glory of white blossoms.

Popular tradition in Jackson County associates them with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

According to the story, the dogwood once grew much larger and served a terrible purpose. Its wood provided the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
A wild dogwood in bloom.

As Christians know, the story of the crucifixion is one of both great horror and great redemption. Good Friday, which is being observed across the world today, is remembered as the day on which Christ was nailed to a cross outside the walls of Jerusalem. It is remembered with horror because of the great suffering and cruelty he suffered. It is remembered as a day of great redemption, because it was the day on which he took the sins of the world upon his own shoulders and gave his life that we might live.

As Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." By laying down his life for us on Good Friday, he offered us all a better world and a brighter future.

The Legend of the Dogwood holds that because the tree served a terrible yet necessary purpose in providing the cross on which Jesus sacrificed his life for all people, it was altered and yet saved by God. Its size was reduced so that no dogwood would ever again grow large enough  to be used in a crucifixion. Then, to make up for its loss in stature, God blessed the tree with its beautiful blossoms.
Dogwood tree in bloom.

The blooms of the dogwood come to life each spring just before Easter to remind us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To help in this annual rite of remembrance, the blossoms were given special features. They are formed of four petals, with each blossom taking the shape of a cross.

The center of the flower symbolizes the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus' head and the tip of each petal is indented with the prints of the nails that penetrated his hands and feet. And finally, by Good Friday of each year red spots appear on the beautiful white blossoms to symbolize the drops of blood that spilled from the body of the Savior.

The legend is an old and treasured part of Southern culture and history and is #81 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Happy Easter!

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