Today is Palm Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. South Jersey churches have long joined in the tradition of handing out palms to worshipers.
For some, Palm Sunday is the final day of giving up their favourite vices for Lent. For others, it’s the kickoff to Holy Week.
The day also begins Holy Week, when the faithful mark Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday.
For non-Christians, seeing churchgoers with palm leaves folded into a cross or a bushel of palm fronds may be perplexing. So where did the tradition come from?
Between Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday before Easter, Christians recognize this as the week Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas, put on trial, and crucified.
“We remember Jesus came into Jerusalem and he was was welcomed with palms,” said Deacon Bob Oliver of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Somers Point.
Jesus is said to have returned to the city, riding a donkey, where he was welcomed by the masses who laid palm fronds at his feet.
For some, this may conjure images from popular culture of Roman emperors being fanned with palm leaves but the imagery isn’t too far off and palm fronds had symbolic significance during Biblical times as they were often thrown at the feet of heroes, according to the Mirror Online.
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, marks the start of the Holy Week that encompasses Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the last supper of Jesus; Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified; and Holy Saturday, the day Jesus was placed in his tomb after his death
“We read The Passion — it’s one of the longest readings we do here,” said Oliver. It spans from Jesus’ conviction all the way to his crucifixion.
“We remember the suffering and trials he had to go through,” he said.
Photo credit: mirroruk