Palm Sunday heralds the beginning of Holy Week and commemorates the day Jesus Christ rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. His praiseful followers laid down their cloaks and frond of palms in front of him, singing – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Did you know that:
1. Palm branches symbolized goodness and victory in ancient times. They were depicted on coins and administrative buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple.
2. During the time of the Roman Empire, the palm branch was a symbol of victory. It became the most common attribute of the goddess Nike and evoked Roman triumph. When the victor laid down his arms and wore a civilian garment of peace, the toga may have been ornamented with emblems of the palm.
3. In many churches in England today, the palms are saved to be burned on Shrove Tuesday the following year to make ashes used in Ash Wednesday services. The Catholic Church considers the blessed palms to be sacramentals
4. Palm leaves are used along with small olive branches readily available in the Mediterranean climate of Italy. These are placed above the doorways at house entrances to last until the, following year’s Palm Sunday. The palm leaf strips are braided into smaller shapes and hung as ornaments on the olive branches.
5. Palm Sunday in Belize is observed with mass celebrating the Resurrection of Christ and is a time when families get together, visit each other, share meals or have picnics. It is a time when Christians proclaim their faith and strengthen their ties to God. In the afternoons, many municipalities hold football games and fairs.
6. In Bulgaria, Palm Sunday is known as Flower’s Day. People with flower-related names such as Lilia, Margarita, Rosa, and Violeta, celebrate this day as their name day.
7. It is popular for children to dress up as Easter witches in Finland, going door to door in neighborhoods and trading decorated pussy willow branches for coins and candy. It is customary for the children to chant, with some variation “I’m wishing you a fresh, healthy upcoming year, a branch for you, a prize for me
8. The donkey in the Eastern tradition that is an animal of peace, unlike the horse which is the animal of war. A king would have ridden a horse when he was bent on war and ridden a donkey to symbolize his arrival in peace. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem would have thus symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.
We wish all people worldwide an opportunity for peaceful reflection as they celebrate this auspicious date with palms, flowers, or olive branches.