The meaning of Palm Sunday can best be understood through the events leading up to it. Palm Sunday is the Sunday, which comes before Easter. It is the feast referred in the church calendar of the Roman Catholics and the Protestant Christians. The Palm Sunday is also regarded as the First day of the Holy week, commemorating Jesus coming to Jerusalem. On this day, Jesus came back to Jerusalem riding on a horse. Watching Him riding on a horse His followers shouted Hossana or save us now , and scattered palm in His path to welcome the Messiah , the saver.
You can understand the meaning of Palm Sunday by referring to all four canonical Gospels that are Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. It was the time for the Jewish priests to celebrate the Passover. Jesus too joined the feast in Jerusalem. The Palm Day is of a great significance to His followers. They stood on the roads and were holding palm branches in hands in order to welcome Jesus. For them, His return to Jerusalem was cause enough to celebrate.
According to the New Testament, before entering in Jerusalem, Jesus was staying at Bethany. He too had dinner with Lazarus and His two sisters Mary and Martha. According to the Gospels, John and the Synoptic Jesus also sent two of His disciples to Bethany in order to search for a colt, which was later found to be wandering in Bethany. Jesus later rode the colt and reached Bethany. The local people welcomed Him singing the Psalm 118, which goes on like this: Blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh .
The Roman Catholic Church call this Sunday the Second Sunday of the Passion. In this Passion Week Liturgy, people enter the church with blessed Palms in hands, and later enacts Jesus entering in Jerusalem. These Palms are burned in some churches in order to store ashes for the upcoming Ash Wednesday .
In the Jewish tradition, the Palm branches are symbols of triumph and victory. Hence, the act of spreading Palms in His path and carpeting the way with the branches are quite symbolical and expresses their veneration towards Jesus. The song that the Jewish people sang was the Benediction song of the Passover meal. It thus presents the figure if Jesus as the symbolic Passover Sacrifice.
The Traditions and Meaning of Palm Sunday
- It is customary for the patrons to receive Palm leaves on Palm Sunday.
- In Elx, Spain, which is the biggest Palm forest, you can find people tying the palm leaves up to protect them from sunlight and later braid them in different shapes.
- On Palm Sundays the Spanish people wear new clothes and shoes.
- In churches, Palm crosses are distributed and processions are held.
In the Christian countries, Palm Sunday is also regarded as the Holy Sunday. The Holy week begins with the Palm Sunday and culminates in the Easter Sunday. On this day children are given crosses made of single Palm leaves. Many churches hold processions, and people sing songs praising Jesus. In Israel, Christians carry palm leaves from Bethpage, and take on a procession from Jericho to Jerusalem, in order to re-explore the path taken by Jesus.
Thus, the Palm Sunday begins with cherish able memory of Jesus return to Jerusalem, but ends with a melancholic note with the thought of His ultimate crucifixion.