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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Palm Sunday: The Triumphal Entry of a King

We're almost there.

Today, on Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord, Christians around the world will jubilantly celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  Consistent with ancient Near Eastern custom, the people welcomed Jesus by covering the road before him and the donkey he rode, with their garments and rushes.  In John's gospel, we learn that in this case, they used palm fronds, which were a symbol of victory in Jewish tradition.  The donkey represents that he is coming in peace.

He was being greeted as a king,
but, soon, they would turn against him.

Chania - Katholische Kirche - Innenraum
By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL
 (  via Wikimedia Commons

That, though, is a subject for later.

Today, we celebrate and shout with the people: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!" ~Ps. 188:25a

Pr. Lucian Mic at the Palm Sunday Procession in Resita- March28 2010 2
By Oana P. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (
licenses/by-sa/3.0)   via Wikimedia Commons
In many churches, palm fronds are blessed on this day, and then carried by the people in procession.  In colder climates, other types of branches, such as willow, are used.  There is a tradition of making palm crosses with the fronds, which are often kept throughout the year, until the following Lent.  It is from the blessed palm fronds that the ashes, for the following years Ash Wednesday service, are made.

Kreuz mit Palmzweig
By Rabanus Flavus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Traditions vary somewhat.  In India, flowers are strewn about the church by the worshipers.  In Latvia, Palm Sunday is referred to as "Pussy Willow Sunday" and, you guessed it...pussy willows are blessed and distributed to worshipers.  In the Philippines, full scale reenactments of the triumphal entry, with a statue or priest seated upon donkey in the procession.

Woven palm leaf cross
By BrokenSphere (Own work) [GFDL
 (  via Wikimedia Commons

Instructions for making Palm Crosses are here:

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1 comment:

  1. I loved reading about the different cultural traditions for Palm Sunday! Maybe one day I'll go to a Mass in the Philippines -- that would be wonderful!

    thank you for coming by and linking up to Saints and Scripture Sundays - have a blessed and marvelous Holy Week!


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