As part of our Celebration Series, we would like to share with you the celebration of Palm Sunday.
On this day, 28th March 2021, Christians worldwide are observing Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is a moveable feast, meaning the date changes every year based on the liturgical calendar, but it always falls exactly one week before Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent (an observance which began on Ash Wednesday). Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which sees the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Travelling to Jerusalem
Just a few days before he was crucified, Jesus rode a donkey
into Jerusalem. People greeted him waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!.’ ‘Hosanna’ which comes from the Hebrew word, ‘hoshi’a na,’, means ‘save now’. The palm branches symbolised goodness and victory and are the reason for the name ‘Palm Sunday’. Jesus chose to ride on a donkey. In Biblical times donkeys symbolised peace, so those who rode them showed that they had peaceful intentions. Important people such as Kings processed on donkeys, so the animal acts as a message that Jesus was the King of the Jews.
How is Palm Sunday Celebrated Today?
Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday as it is referred to in some Christian churches, is the final Sunday before Easter. Worshipers honour Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On this day, Christians also remember Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, praise God for the gift of salvation, and wait for the Lord’s second coming.
Many churches distribute palm branches to the congregation on Palm Sunday for the customary observances. These observances include a reading of the account of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the carrying and waving of palm branches in processional, the blessing of palms, the singing of traditional hymns, and the making of small
crosses with palm fronds.
The congregation can take the palms home and display their palm branches near a cross or crucifix or place them into their Bible until the next year’s season of Lent. Otherwise, churches will collect the old palm leaves to be burned and used for Ash Wednesday the following year.
The rest of Holy Week observes the death and resurrection of Jesus, ending in Easter Sunday.
Maundy Thursday is a time to remember when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples. He broke bread and drank wine with them. For Christians, this event is called the ‘Last Supper’.
Good Friday recognises the crucifixion of Jesus. This is a day of mourning, and of fasting and abstinence as Jesus’s suffering is remembered. Worldwide, Good Friday processions and re-enactments take place.
Finally Easter Sunday marks Jesus’s resurrection. Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday, after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first full moon after the spring equinox. Christians believe that, through his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and sin. Therefore, those who believe in him will have eternal life. This is a celebration of great joy, where churches are filled with flowers and songs are loudly sung.
by Áine Macdonald