Sunday of the Palms: When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” the crowds answered, and “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-3, 6-11)
The timetables to Jerusalem’s festivities vary according to the different churches and denominations represented. Christians wishing to participate in the processional and the Holy Week festivities need only come to Jerusalem and inquire within the church of choice or visit the respective church’s website.
Sunday of the Palms is a Christian holiday occurring the Sunday before Easter, and as such, is a moveable feast in the Christian calendar. It is the first day of Holy Week, the week of Jesus torture and crucifixion. Sunday of the Palms in Jerusalem commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Bible records Jesus entering the city on a donkey and people waving palm branches and clothing before him. They then announced that he was the Messiah they had been waiting for. The commemoration of the triumphal entry has been celebrated by churches in Jerusalem since the 3d century AD. Now, several churches in Jerusalem hand out cut palm branches. Occasionally, these palm branches are woven into the shape of a cross in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ.
On the actual Sunday of the Palms in Jerusalem, Christian worshippers perform the triumphal entry of Christ into the city. It is marked by the large masses that show up for this most holy day. Children are included in this celebration. The kids enjoy the processional through Jerusalem and waving the palm leaves.
The Sunday of the Palms is also known as the Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic worshippers. It is the beginning of the week celebrating Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection. Christians carry the leaves from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, along the road to Jericho to recreate the path taken by Christ as he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, as did all Jews at that time. Christians make this processional singing, “Hosanna,” much like it was recorded in the Bible. The parade passes through the Garden of Gethsemane to St. Ann’s within the walls of the Old City Jerusalem.
The Protestants in Jerusalem celebrate the Lenten season in Purple, which is used until Easter Sunday. The Catholics in Jerusalem change the colors of the priests’ vestments to red for the Sunday of the Palms. These churches hold special services as the culmination of the festive processional into the town.