On the first day of spring, it’s tradition to give pussy willows to people, so when my parents came to visit me, they gave me a vase-full.
My grandmother showed me this tradition. She was born and raised in Latvia, had her first daughter there, and my dad was actually born in Germany during WWII because his father was off fighting in the war and my grandmother had to pack up everything she could carry and take her daughter and start walking- all while pregnant with my father. There is a very large Latvian community in Willimantic, CT which is the town next to the one I grew up in. A lot of Latvian traditions were part of my childhood, but bringing Pussywillows for Spring was a big one. It’s fun because they are these branches with these soft little buds on them- they feel like a cat. As to what it means, I think it’s simply an offering of some sort, like poinsettas at Christmas or Lillies at Easter.
I agree with Kate in her suggestion that the giving of these pussy willows is some sort of an offering. It could possibly have to do with trying to bring prosperity and good fortune in the spring. A pussy willow is not the most beautiful of flowers, its possible that it was an abundant flower in the region of Switzerland where the tradition originated.