Palm Sunday

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Palm Sunday
Assisi-frescoes-entry-into-jerusalem-pietro lorenzetti.jpg
Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti: entering the city on a donkey symbolizes arrival in peace rather than as a war-waging king arriving on a horse[1][2]
Significance commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem
Date Moveable feast, Sunday before Easter
These are small crosses made up of palm on occasion of palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels.[3]

In many Catholic and Episcopal denominations, worship services on Palm Sunday include a procession of the faithful carrying palms, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. The difficulty of procuring palms in unfavorable climates led to their substitution with branches of native trees, including box, olive, willow, and yew. The Sunday was often named after these substitute trees, as in Yew Sunday, or by the general term Branch Sunday.

Biblical basis and symbolism

Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels
Life of Jesus

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Jesus riding on a donkey in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, depicted by James Tissot.

In the accounts of the four canonical Gospels, Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem takes place about a week before his Resurrection.[4][5][6][7][8]

Christian theologians believe that the symbolism is captured prophetically in the Old Testament: Zechariah 9:9 "The Coming of Zion's King – See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey". It suggests that Jesus was declaring he was the King of Israel to the anger of the Sanhedrin.

According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of him, and sang part of Psalm 118: 25–26... Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord ....[2][4][5][6]

The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war.[1] 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.[1][2]

“Flevit super illam” (He wept over it); by Enrique Simonet, 1892.

In Luke 19:41 as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, he looks at the city and weeps over it (an event known as Flevit super illam in Latin), foretelling the suffering that awaits the city in the events of the destruction of the Second Temple.

In many lands in the ancient Near East, it was customary to cover in some way the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honour. The Hebrew Bible (2 Kings 9:13) reports that Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, was treated this way. Both the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John report that people gave Jesus this form of honour. In the synoptics the people are described as laying their garments and cut rushes on the street, whereas John specifies fronds of palm (Greek phoinix). In Jewish tradition, the palm is one of the Four Species carried for Sukkot, as prescribed for rejoicing at Leviticus 23:40.

In the Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, which strongly influenced Christian tradition, the palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory. It became the most common attribute of the goddess Nike or Victory.[9] For contemporary Roman observers, the procession would have evoked the Roman triumph,[10] when the triumphator laid down his arms and wore the toga, the civilian garment of peace that might be ornamented with emblems of the palm.[11] Although the Epistles of Paul refer to Jesus as "triumphing", the entry into Jerusalem may not have been regularly pictured as a triumphal procession in this sense before the 13th century.[12] In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions and represented eternal life. The palm branch later was used as a symbol of Christian martyrs and their spiritual victory or triumph over death.[13] In Revelation 7:9, the white-clad multitude stand before the throne and Lamb holding palm branches.

Observance in the liturgy

Dates for Palm Sunday
2010–2024
In Gregorian dates
Year Western Eastern
2010 March 28
2011 April 17
2012 April 1 April 8
2013 March 24 April 28
2014 April 13
2015 March 29 April 5
2016 March 20 April 24
2017 April 9
2018 March 25 April 1
2019 April 14 April 21
2020 April 5 April 12
2021 March 28 April 25
2022 April 10 April 17
2023 April 2 April 9
2024 March 24 April 28

Eastern and Oriental Christianity

Palm Sunday, or the "Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem," as it is often called in some Orthodox Churches, is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the liturgical year. The day before Palm Sunday, Lazarus Saturday, believers often prepare palm fronds by knotting them into crosses in preparation for the procession on Sunday. The hangings and vestments in the church are changed to a festive colour – gold in the Greek tradition, and green in the Slavic tradition.

The Troparion of the Feast (a short hymn) indicates that the resurrection of Lazarus is a prefiguration of Jesus's own Resurrection:

O Christ our God
When Thou didst raise Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,
Thou didst confirm the resurrection of the universe.
Wherefore, we like children,
carry the banner of triumph and victory,
and we cry to Thee, O Conqueror of love,
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He that cometh
in the Name of the Lord.

In the Russian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ruthenian Catholic Church, Polish, Bavarian and Austrian Roman Catholics, and various other Eastern European peoples, the custom developed of using pussy willow instead of palm fronds because the latter are not readily available that far north. There is no canonical requirement as to what kind of branches must be used, so some Orthodox believers use olive branches. Whatever the kind, these branches are blessed and distributed together with candles either during the All-Night Vigil on the Eve of the Feast (Saturday night), or before the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. The Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy commemorates the "Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem", so the meaningfulness of this moment is punctuated on Palm Sunday as everyone stands, holding their branches and lit candles. The faithful take these branches and candles home with them after the service, and keep them in their icon corner as an evloghia (blessing).

In Russia, donkey walk processions took place in different cities, but most importantly in Novgorod and, since 1558 until 1693, in Moscow. It was prominently featured in testimonies by foreign witnesses and mentioned in contemporary Western maps of the city. The Patriarch of Moscow, representing Christ, rode on a "donkey" (actually a horse draped in white cloth); the Tsar of Russia humbly led the procession on foot. Originally, Moscow processions began inside the Kremlin and terminated at Trinity Church, now known as Saint Basil's Cathedral, but in 1658 Patriarch Nikon reversed the order of procession. Peter I, as a part of his nationalisation of the church, terminated the custom; it has been occasionally recreated in the 21st century.

In Oriental Orthodox churches, palm fronds are distributed at the front of the church at the sanctuary steps, in India the sanctuary itself having been strewn with marigolds, and the congregation proceeds through and outside the church.

Western Christianity

In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. They were often depicted on coins and important buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29). Again at the end of the Bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honor Jesus (Revelation 7:9).

Palm Sunday commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–9), when palm branches were placed in his path, before his arrest on Holy Thursday and his crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent.

In the Roman Catholic Church, as well as among many Anglican and Lutheran congregations, palm fronds (or in colder climates some kind of substitutes) are blessed with an aspergillum outside the church building in an event called the "blessing of palms" if using palm leaves (or in cold climates in the narthex when Easter falls early in the year). A solemn procession also takes place, and may include the normal liturgical procession of clergy and acolytes, the parish choir, or the entire congregation.

In the Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church, this feast now coincides with that of Passion Sunday, which is the focus of the Mass which follows the service of the blessing of palms. The palms are saved in many churches 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. The vestments for the day are deep scarlet red, the colour of blood, indicating the supreme redemptive sacrifice Christ was entering the city to fulfill: his Passion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

Blessing of palms outside an Episcopal Church in the United States.

In the Episcopal and many other Anglican churches and in Lutheran churches, as well, the day is nowadays officially called "The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday"; in practice, though, it is usually termed "Palm Sunday" as in the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer and in earlier Lutheran liturgies and calendars, to avoid undue confusion with the penultimate Sunday of Lent in the traditional calendar, which was "Passion Sunday".

In the Church of Pakistan (a member of the Anglican Communion), the faithful on Palm Sunday carry palm branches into the church as they sing Psalm 24.

In many Protestant churches, children are given palms, and then walk in procession around the inside of the church .[citation needed] In traditional usage of the Methodist Church, The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) provides the following Collect for Palm Sunday:[14]

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love toward mankind hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[14]

Customs

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It is customary in many churches for worshippers to receive fresh palm leaves on Palm Sunday. In parts of the world where this has historically been impractical, substitute traditions have arisen.

Belgium

In Hoegaarden, one of the last remaining Palm Sunday processions takes place every year. A fellowship of Twelve Apostles carries a wooden statue of Christ around the town, while children go door to door offering the palms (box) for coins.[citation needed]

Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, Palm Sunday is known as Tsvetnitsa (tsvete, "flower") or Vrabnitsa (varba, "willow"), or Flower's Day. People with flower-related names (e.g., Lilia, Margarita, Nevena, Ralitsa, Rosa, Temenuzhka, Tsvetan, Tsvetana, Tsvetelin, Tsvetelina, Tsvetko, Violeta, Yavor, Zdravko, Zjumbjul, etc.) celebrate this day as their name day.[citation needed]

England

In the 15th through the 17th centuries in England, Palm Sunday was frequently marked by the burning of Jack-'o'-Lent figures. This was a straw effigy which would be stoned and abused on Ash Wednesday, and kept in the parish for burning on Palm Sunday. The symbolism was believed to be a kind of revenge on Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Christ. The effigy could also have represented the hated figure of Winter, whose destruction prepares the way for Spring.[15]

Ethiopia

In Orthodox Ethiopia, this holiday is referred to as Hosanna. Palm leaves are used to create rings and other ornaments.

Rings and accessories made of palm leaves in celebration of Hosanna (Palm Sunday).
Palm leaf rings in celebration of Hosanna in Ethiopia.

Finland

In Finland, it is popular for children to dress up as Easter witches and go door to door in neighborhoods for coins and candy. This is an old Karelian custom called Virpominen.

It is customary for the children to chant, with some variation, "Virvon varvon tuoreeks, terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks, vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!"[16] which translates as "I'm wishing you a fresh, healthy upcoming year, a branch for you, a prize for me!" The chant has been translated in Juha Vuorinen's novel Totally Smashed! as "Willow switch, I’m the Easter witch! I wish you health and a love that’s rich! From me I bring some luck today, for this branch what will you pay?"[17]

India

In most of the Catholic Churches in India the Palms are blessed by the Priest on Palm Sunday and then distributed among the people after the Holy Mass. There is a tradition of folding Palm Fronds into Palm Crosses which are kept at the altar till the next Ash Wednesday.

Flowers (in this instance marigolds) strewn about the sanctuary in an Oriental Orthodox church in Mumbai, India on Palm Sunday.

In the South Indian state of Kerala (and in Indian Orthodox, Church of South India (CSI), Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, and Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite) congregations elsewhere in India and throughout the West), flowers are strewn about the sanctuary on Palm Sunday during the reading of the Gospel, at the words uttered by the crowd welcoming Jesus, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who is come and is to come in the name of the Lord God". These words are read to the congregation thrice. The congregation then repeats, "Hosanna!", and the flowers are scattered. This is adapted from the older Hindu custom of scattering flowers on festive occasions, as well as the honour shown to Jesus upon his entry into Jerusalem.

Indian Orthodoxy traces its roots to the arrival in India of Saint Thomas the Apostle (traditionally dated to AD 52) and his evangelism among both the Brahmans of the Malabar Coast and the ancient Jewish community there. Its rites and ceremonies are both Hindu and Jewish, as well as Levantine Christian, in origin. In Syro-Malabar Catholic Church's palm leaves are blessed during Palm Sunday ceremony and a Procession takes place holding the palms.[18]

Italy

In Italy, palm leaves are used along with small olive branches, readily available in the Mediterranean climate. These are placed at house entrances (for instance, hanging above the door) to last until the following year's Palm Sunday. For this reason, usually palm leaves are not used whole, due to their size; instead, leave stripes are braided into smaller shapes. Small olive branches are also often used to decorate traditional Easter cakes, along with other symbols of birth, like eggs.[citation needed]

Latvia

In Latvia, Palm Sunday is called "Pussy Willow Sunday", and pussy willows – symbolizing new life – are blessed and distributed to the faithful.[19] Children are often awakened that morning with ritualistic swats of a willow branch.[citation needed]

Lithuania

When Christianity came to Lithuania, the plants which sprouted earliest were honored during spring feasts. The name "Palm Sunday" is a misnomer; the "verba" or "dwarfed spuce" is used instead. According to tradition, on the Saturday before Palm Sunday the Lithuanians take special care in choosing and cutting well-formed branches, which the women-folk decorate with flowers. The flowers are meticulously tied onto the branches, making the "Verba".[citation needed]

The Levant

In Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, Palm Sunday (Shaa'nineh in Arabic) Is perhaps the best-attended service in the Christian Calendar, among the Orthodox, Catholic (Latin Church and Eastern Catholic Churches), and Anglican Churches, perhaps because it is notably a family occasion.[citation needed] On this day, children attend church with branches from olive and palm trees. Also, there will be carefully woven crosses and other symbols made from palm fronds and roses and a procession at the beginning of the service, during which at some point, the priest will take an olive branch and splash holy water on the faithful.[citation needed]

Malta

All the parishes of Malta and Gozo on Palm Sunday (Maltese: Ħadd il-Palm) bless the palm leaves and the olive leaves. Those parishes that have the statues of Good Friday bless the olive tree they put on the statues of "Jesus prays in the Olive Garden" (Ġesù fl-Ort) and the "Betrayal of Judas" (il-Bewsa ta' Ġuda). Also, many people take a small olive branch to their homes because it is a sacramental.[citation needed]

Netherlands

In the Saxon regions of the Netherlands, crosses are decorated with candy and bread, made in the form of a rooster. In the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, a great procession with oil lamps is held the night before Palm Sunday in honour of the Sorrowful Mother of Warfhuizen.[citation needed]

Philippines

A priest blesses palm fronds in Santiago Apostol Church in Plaridel, Bulacan, Philippines.

In the Philippines, communities re-enact Jesus' triumphal entry with a procession. A statue of Christ riding a donkey (the Humenta), or the officiating priest on horseback, is brought to the local church by congregants, who wave palaspás (ornately woven palm branches). At houses and chapels, white-clad children scatter flowers as they sing the antiphon Hosanna Filio David in the vernacular and to traditional tunes. Tapis (heirloom "aprons" made for this ritual) or large cloths are spread along the processional route, to be tread upon by the Humenta or the priest.

Once blessed, the palaspás are brought home and placed on altars, doorways, and windows. The Church teaches that this is meant to welcome Christ, but many Filipinos believe blessed palaspás to be apotropaic, deterring evil spirits, lightning, and fires. Another folk custom is to feed pieces of blessed palaspás to roosters used in sabong (cockfighting); this was strongly discouraged by the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.[citation needed] In other provinces, the flowers strewn by the angels during the procession are added to the rice seeds being planted, in the belief that these will ensure a bountiful harvest.

Poland

A palm in Łyse, Poland.

Many Polish towns and villages (the best known are Lipnica Murowana in Lesser Poland and Łyse) organize artificial palm competitions. The biggest of those reach above 30 meters in length; for example, the highest palm in 2008 was 33.39 meters.[20]

Romania and Moldova

In Romania and Moldova, Palm Sunday is known as Duminica Floriilor or simply Florii, translating Flowers' Sunday.[citation needed]

Spain

In Spain, there is a tradition at the Palmeral of Elche (Europe's largest Palm Grove) where local people cover palm leaves from the sun to allow them to whiten, and then they tie and braid them in to intricate shapes. [21]

A Spanish rhyming proverb states: Domingo de Ramos, quien no estrena algo, se le caen las manos ("On Palm Sunday, the hands drop off of those who fail to wear something new"). On Palm Sunday, it is customary to don new clothing or shoes.

[22]

Syria

In Syria, it is popular for children to dress up as Easter witches and go door to door in neighborhoods for coins and candy

Wales

In Welsh Palm Sunday in called 'Sul y Blodau' ('Flowering Sunday') and it is traditional to decorate graves with flowers on that day, especially in the industrial towns and villages of south Wales.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Matthew 19–28 by William David Davies, Dale C. Allison 2004 ISBN 0-567-08375-6 page 120
  2. ^ a b c John 12–21 by John MacArthur 2008 ISBN 978-0-8024-0824-2 pages 17–18
  3. ^ Mark 11:1–11, Matthew 21:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:12–19.
  4. ^ a b The people's New Testament commentary by M. Eugene Boring, Fred B. Craddock 2004 ISBN 0-664-22754-6 pages 256–258
  5. ^ a b The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke, Volume 1 by Craig A. Evans 2003 ISBN 0-7814-3868-3 page 381-395
  6. ^ a b The Synoptics: Matthew, Mark, Luke by Ján Majerník, Joseph Ponessa, Laurie Watson Manhardt 2005 ISBN 1-931018-31-6 pages 133–134
  7. ^ The Bible knowledge background commentary: John's Gospel, Hebrews–Revelation by Craig A. Evans ISBN 0-7814-4228-1 pages 114–118
  8. ^ Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–44 John 12:12–19
  9. ^ Reidar Hvalvik, "Christ Proclaiming His Law to the Apostles: The Traditio Legis-Motif in Early Christian Art and Literature," in The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context: Studies in Honor of David E. Aune (Brill, 2006), p. 432; Guillermo Galán Vioque, Martial, Book VII: A Commentary, translated by J.J. Zoltowski (Brill 2002), pp. 61, 206, 411; Anna Clark, Divine Qualities: Cult and Community in Republican Rome (Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 162.
  10. ^ Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (David C. Cook, 2007), p. 272.
  11. ^ Vioque, Martial, Book VII: A Commentary, p. 61.
  12. ^ John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas (De Gruyter, 2000), vol. 2, p. 254ff.
  13. ^ Fernando Lanzi and Gioia Lanzi, Saints and Their Symbols: Recognizing Saints in Art and in Popular Images (Liturgical Press, 2004), p. 25.
  14. ^ a b The Book of Worship for Church and Home: With Orders of Worship, Services for the Administration of the Sacraments and Other Aids to Worship According to the Usages of the Methodist Church. Methodist Publishing House. 1964. p. 101. Retrieved 25 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Frood & Graves p.10
  16. ^ Väänänen, Vuokko (March 21, 2016). "Virvon varvon tuoreeks terveeks…". Värtsilän verkkolehti. Värtsilän verkkolehti. Retrieved September 25, 2017. 
  17. ^ Vuorinen, Juha (2017). Totally Smashed!. Translated by Leonard Pearl. Diktaatori. p. 165. ISBN 978-9525474756. 
  18. ^ "NATIONAL / KERALA : Traditional services mark Palm Sunday". The Hindu. 2011-04-18. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  19. ^ "Archives". Mirabilis.ca. June 2012. 
  20. ^ https://www.realpoland.eu/the-easter-palm-sunday/
  21. ^ http://www.spainisculture.com/en/propuestas_culturales/elche_la_artesania_de_la_palma_blanca_y_el_calzado.html
  22. ^ http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Palm_Sunday

References

  • Frood, J.D. & Graves, M.A.R. Seasons and Ceremonies: Tudor-Stuart England. Elizabethan Promotions, 1992
  • Вход Господень в Иерусалим. Богослужебные указания для священнослужителей. (Составитель протоиерей Виталий Грищук) – СПб.: Санкт-Петербургская православная духовная академия, 2013г. (в формате iBooks).

External links

  • An Order of Service for Palm Sunday
  • Learn how to make a cross out of palms
  • Palm Sunday (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia)
  • Palm Sunday according to the Byzantine Rite Tradition
  • Palm Sunday 2015
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Palm Sunday". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
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