Waving the palm leaves on palm Sundays has been a tradition for many centuries. The palm branches are considered to be a part of the Christian worship which happens on Palm Sunday.
The Palm Sunday is considered to be an event which marks the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, as it is narrated by the prophet Zechariah.
History of Palm Leaves and Branches
Their branches and leaves are very long and spread out in every direction from the top of a single trunk, which has the capability of growing more than 55 feet in height.
It is mentioned in the Bible that the finest specimen of the palm trees grew at the Jericho, which is also famous by the name of the city of palm trees.
These best palm trees grew along the banks of the river Jordan.
These palm trees and branches could be easily found on various coins and other important architectural structures.
The kings and the people who were very rich in the ancient times, used to you have carvings and sculptures depicting the palm branches on the doors and the walls of their houses.
These carvings could also be found in the temples and at other religious places.
These branches are also regarded as a token of happiness and joy and were a part of every festival or any occasion which happened in ancient times.
Whenever the kings or any conquerors came back to their homes after winning, then they were welcomed using the palm tree branches.
People use to hold the branches in their hands and then wave them in the air as a gesture of joy and respect.
History has also seen that various judges who were present in Israel used to hold their court under the shadow of the palm trees because of the big span and size of the trees.
The Book of Revelation, which is present in the end portion of the Bible also tells that various nations used to raise the palm branches to honour Jesus Christ.
The same is written in the revelation 7:9
After this, I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Significance of Palm Leaves and Branches
The palm leaves and branches are considered to be something related to the religious and holy sentiments of the people.
These palm leaves and branches are used in various festival and religious occasions for joy and celebration.
These are also used as a symbol of celebrating the victory of good over evil whenever the kings and the conquerors returned to their homes.
People use to wave these leaves and branches in the air by holding them in their hands in honour of these fighters. These branches are also considered to be a symbol of wisdom and grandeur.
Palm Leaves and Branches on Palm Sundays
Some of the key takeaways about the palm branches which are used on the palm Sundays are listed below for valuable readers:
- In the present scenario, the palm Sunday is celebrated exactly one week or seven days before the occasion of Easter. It is celebrated on the first day of holy week.
- It is believed by many people that the first-ever celebration of the Palm Sunday happened in a Christian Church. But this fact is uncertain.
It is found in the sacred texts that a palm processional was seen somewhere in the fourth century in Jerusalem, but this particular ceremony was not introduced into western Christianity till the 9th century.
3. It is mentioned in the Bible that the time of entry into Jerusalem of Jesus Christ happened with the waving of the palm branches.
This particular incident is mentioned in the John 12:12-15, Mathew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44.
Triumphant Entry of Jesus
It is mentioned in the Bible that the triumph entry of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem was celebrated with the help of these leaves and branches of a palm tree.
The same is mentioned in the four gospels. Below are the lines which are quoted from the John 12:12-15.
These lines depict how the palm Sunday was celebrated with the help of palm leaves and branches.
The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him.
They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!”
Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:12-15)
Why Palm Leaves and Branches?
Palm leaves and trees are used for the celebration of Palm Sunday because, from the past many centuries, many churches all around the world have been celebrating this particular day.
It is celebrated by the distribution of palm branches or the branches of other native trees to the crowd which is gathered in front of the church.
This is done as the same thing was performed when Jesus Christ rode to Jerusalem.
The palm is also used because of its wide acceptance in many reformed traditions and religions like the Catholic, orthodox, angelic, Lutheran, Moravian and other churches.
The devotees like to take these palm branches and leaves to their houses because they believe that these plants and trees are blessed by clergy and they keep them along with the Christian art and the cross.
Some of the churches also collect the palms in a basket and then finally burn them as a part of a ritual on the Shrove Tuesday.
So that the ash which is produced can be used on the following day of ash Wednesday, which is considered to be the first day of lent.
Present Palm Leaves and Branches
Talking about the present scenario, many people nowadays use the palm branches for decorating the churches.
They also distribute the palm branches to all the worshipers who come on the palm Sunday, which lines on the 6th Sunday of Lent and the last Sunday before the occasion of Easter.
On the day of Palm Sunday, all the people remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion and also praise him for the divine gift of Salvation.
People also pray and expect the second coming of Jesus Christ.
People also perform the task of waving the palm branches in the different processions which happen on the palm Sunday and they also make small Christian crosses with the help of palm trees.
It is believed that the Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the holy week, which particularly focuses on the final time and days from the life of Jesus Christ.
This holy week culminates on the day of Easter Sunday which is considered to be the most important holiday in the Christianity religion.
Customs Followed on Palm Sunday
Various customs and traditions are followed on the day of Palm Sunday all around the world.
Some of the customs and traditions in different countries are listed below:
In India, the majority of the catholic churches are blessed by the priest on the eve of Palm Sunday.
The palm leaves and branches are then distributed among the people after the holy mass.
People also follow the tradition of folding the palm fronds in the form of palm crosses, which they then keep with themselves till the next Ash Wednesday.
In Italy, the leaves of the palm trees are used along with the smaller branches.
People hang these leaves above their door and also place them at the house entrances till the Palm Sunday.
Statue of Christ who is riding a donkey or a presiding priest on horseback is brought to the local church in a morning procession in the country of Philippines on the eve of Palm Sunday.
Many towns and villages which are located in the country of Poland organised artificial palm competitions where the people take part with full enthusiasm and joy.
The biggest tower which was made using the palm leaves and branches as of 33.4 metres in the year 2008.
5. England and Wales
The Palm Sunday is marked by the burning of jack-o-lantern figures in the country of England.
People believe and they straw effigy, which would be stoned and abused on Ash Wednesday and kept in the Paris for burning on Palm Sunday.
In the country of Finland, the children like to dress up as Easter witches and then they go from door to door to the neighbours and trade decorated branches of the palm tree for coins and candy.
In Spain, there is a tradition which is considered to be Europe’s largest palm grove in which the local people come together and cover the palm leaves from the sun.
This allows them to whiten and then they tie and braid these leaves into intricate shapes.
In the country of Lithuania, the plants and trees are treated with respect.
The people, on the day before the palm Sunday takes special care in choosing and cutting well-formed branches of the palm tree which the women then decorate with the help of flowers.
These flowers are tied meticulously on different branches of the palm tree and form the Verba.
In the country of Malta and Gozo, the Palm Sunday is celebrated with the help of palm leaves and the Olive leaves.
People decorate their houses using these leaves and also take a small Olive branch from the Jesus press in the olive garden incident to their homes because it is considered sacramental amongst them.
In the Saxon regions of Netherlands, the Christian crosses are decorated with the help of bread and candy and then made in the form of a rooster.
The great procession is then carried out with the help of oil lamps exactly a night before the palm Sunday for honoring the sorrowful mother of Warfhuizen.
The palm leaves and branches are used all around the world on the occasion of Palm Sunday.
Various religious sentiments and traditions are associated with these special leaves as they are used for making the crucifixion cross and also hung outside the door by the people as a symbol of good luck.
People also associate the usage of the palm leaves and trees with the palm Sunday as these special leaves were used for welcoming Jesus Christ when he returned to Jerusalem.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Why is the occasion called Palm Sunday?
The occasion is called Palm Sunday because it marks the return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem. When he returned, he was welcomed with palm leaves and branches in their hand by the people and they waved them in the air for his honour.
Can one use other leaves instead of palm on Palm Sunday?
Yes, one can use the leaves from other trees also on the palm Sunday. But, the majority of the people all around the world like to use only the palm leaves to honour Jesus Christ and also preserve the sentiments attached to the occasion.
What kind of games are played on palm Sunday?
Games like constructing the palm tower, the formation of palm crosses, creation of artifacts using the palm trees are organized all around the world on the occasion of Palm Sunday.