Easter Traditions: Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week leading up to Easter. It is a Christian moveable feast which falls on the Sunday before Easter and is mentioned in all four gospels. Holy Week is also the final week of Lent.
After the last two years when we were suffering from the pandemic and churches were closed, it will be good this year as most churches are now open and will be able to celebrate Easter.
When is Holy Week?
The first day of Holy Week is Palm Sunday. This is the Sunday before Easter Day and the day Christians now celebrate Jesus riding into Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus rode on a donkey as a sign of peace rather than a war-waging king on a horse.
Holy Week 2022 starts on Sunday 10 April and ends on Saturday 16 April the day before Easter Sunday on 17 April. Holy Week is also the last week of Lent.
Why called Palm Sunday?
It has been given the name of Palm Sunday because the people were pleased to see Jesus who they knew to be important. It was the custom in Roman times to welcome royalty by waving palm branches and often spreading them on the road.
Palm trees grew on the side of the road and the people took some branches and waved them in the air and shouted 'Hosanna' (which means 'God Saves' in Hebrew). They also put some branches on the road to make it easier for the donkey to walk on the rocky ground.
The Passover Festival dates from about 4,000 years ago when Jewish people remember that God saved them from slavery in Egypt. Jesus was a Jew and so celebrated the Passover. The Jewish calendar follows the cycle of the moon, so the date changes a bit every year.
Sometimes Palm Sunday is called Passion Sunday as Holy Week reminds us of Jesus' passion or death.
It is the custom in churches all over the world to give out small crosses made from palm leaves on Palm Sunday as a reminder of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and his death on the cross. The crosses are usually made from folded strips of dried palm leaves.