Palm Sunday is a Christian festival that falls on the Sunday before Easter. Continue reading to find out about the meaning and scriptures of this feast!
First of all, the feast is supposed to indicate the triumphs of Jesus Christ – the ones he earned right before the entry into Jerusalem. As a Christian, you’d know that this event has been mentioned four times in the canonical Gospels. It’s the first day of the Holy Week and the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lents.
What does this festival signify? Is there any special symbolism that we perhaps might not able to gauge as an outsider learning about the festival? These are all the questions that come to our mind when we’re learning about a festival unheard of.
Many churches celebrate Palm Sunday as a day of blessings. There’s a proper distribution of palm branches which represents the crowd that was scattered in front of Christ when he drove to the Jerusalem. In some places – where palm trees are not easily procured – the branches are substituted with the branches of any native tree including a box of an olive, willow, and a yew.
Many Christian churches like the Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, and Reformed traditions distribute palm branches to the attendees during their Palm Sunday liturgies. These branches are blessed by clergy – they often bring these branches back home and place them beside Christian art.
The period after Lent is known as Shrovetide, where churches often place a basket in the narthex to gather palm branches which they eventually burn to extract ashes. This is done on the Wednesday following the Sunday and it is known as Ash Wednesday.
Back in the day, these palm branches were considered to be a sign of victory and goodness. In fact, some even considered them to be more important than buildings and coins.
Palm Sunday symbolizes the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem— as we already discussed—when palm branches were placed in his path, before his arrest on Holy Thursday and his crucifixion on Good Friday. This day also marks the final day of Lent and the beginning of a Holy Week.
In many churches, children are provided palms that they carry to walk in a procession inside the church. Roman Catholic Churches, along with Anglican and Lutheran congregations, offer palm fronds with holy water outside the church building. This particular event is known as Blessing of the Palms.
The Catholic Church considers these palm blessings to be sacramental. The vestments of the day are usually indicated by red – suggesting the ultimate sacrifice of Christ which he made to fulfill his passion in Jerusalem. Anglican and Lutheran churches call this day The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.
It is important for the worshippers to receive a fresh palm leave on Palm Sunday. Some places on Earth find this ritual impractical, and so other customary practices have been opted for instead.
Below we have provided you a list of countries and how they celebrate Palm Sunday.
One of the last few Palm Sunday processions take place in Hoegaarden. Twelve Apostles carry wooden statue of Christ all over the town and children go door to door to offer boxes of Palm leaves or branches for coins.
In Bulgaria, Palm Sunday is called Tsvetnitsa which translates to flower – often known as Flower’s Day. On this special day, people with names of flowers, like Rosa, Nevena, Margarita, etc. celebrate.
In England, Palm Sunday was known as the day when you burn the Jack-‘O’ Lent figures. This happened till the 17th century. The stone was abused on Ash Wednesday and put in the parish for burning on Palm Sunday. The idea behind this tradition is that it’s the best kind of revenge on Judas Iscariot – the one who betrayed Jesus Christ.
In the Orthodox church of Egypt and Ethiopia, Palm Sunday is known as Hosanna. On this day, Palm leaves are distributed and used as crucifixes, rings, and decorative ornaments.
Children dress up as Easter witches and go door to door to trade decorated pussy willow branches for coins and candy. This is an old custom of Finland known as virpominen.
Some areas of Germany celebrate Palm Sunday with a twigs and willow box. In the Southern region, the priest leads the processions while riding on a donkey – sometimes it’s wooden – meanwhile there’s a figure of Christ placed next to it.
In India, the palms are blessed by the priest conducting the procession. It is later distributed to the people attending the Holy mass. They often fold the palm fronds into palm crosses that are saved till Ash Wednesday.
Italy follows a customary practice where it uses small olive branches which are easily accessible in the Mediterranean region. These branches are placed outside their house that stay there till the next year. Normally, they’re not used as a whole as they’re big in size but instead their leaf strips are used. Also, people in Italy use olive branches to decorate their Easter cakes as it symbolizes positive things like birth.
Here Palm Sunday is known as Pussy Willow Sunday – meaning new life. They are distributed to the faithful Christians. Another interesting ritual observed in this country is that they wake children up from deep slumber with swats of a willow branch.
In the Netherlands, crosses are decorated with candy and bread. Furthermore, the processions are held with oil lamps and it’s usually in the night.
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Do tell us how you celebrate Christ’s triumphant arrival or the Sunday before Easter! You should read Bible quotes and scripture to get your facts rights about this Holy Week apart from this article.