What Is Palm Sunday?

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Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that always falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned by all four (Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19).

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A palm branch, usually refers to the leaves of the plant. The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in pre-Christian times. The Romans rewarded champions of the games and celebrated military successes with palm branches.

In many Christian churches, Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of palm leaves (often tied into crosses) to the assembled worshipers. The difficulty of procuring palms for that day’s ceremonies in unfavorable climates for palms led to the substitution of boughs of box, yew, willow or other native trees. The Sunday was often designated by the names of these trees, as Yew Sunday or by the general term Branch Sunday.

On Palm Sunday, in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many Anglican and Lutheran churches, palm fronds (or in colder climates some kind of substitutes) are blessed outside the church building (or in cold climates in the narthex when Easter falls early in the year). A procession also takes place. It may include the normal liturgical procession of clergy and acolytes, the parish choir, the children of the parish or indeed the entire congregation as in the churches of the East. In many Protestant churches, children are given palms, and then walk in procession around the inside of the church while the adults remain seated.

Today is the beginning of the holiest week for many Christians. I wish you  a blessed and holy walk.


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