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Easter 2021: What is Palm Sunday and how is it celebrated?

Today is Palm Sunday (Picture: Getty)

Christians across the world are today marking Palm Sunday in the lead-up to one of the holiest days in the calendar – Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday is observed by various denominations of the faith, including Catholics, Anglicans, and Methodists.

It signifies the beginning of Holy Week, and always falls on the Sunday before Good Friday (April 2) and Easter Sunday (April 4).

Here’s what you need to know about today.

What is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, marks Jesus’ arrival to Jerusalem before his arrest on Holy Thursday and crucifixion on Good Friday.

Palm Sunday is always the Sunday before Easter.

Stained glass window of Jesus arriving at Jerusalem.

Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, and was greeted by people waving palm leaves (Picture: Getty)

As he approached the city, he asked his disciples to fetch a young donkey from a nearby village for him to ride in on, and was greeted by people waving palm leaves.

It is written in the Bible: ‘They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!”.’

How is Palm Sunday celebrated?

Christians mark Palm Sunday with many traditions, including church services where palm leaves are blessed and given to worshippers to take home.

The day also offers time for reflection on the final week of Jesus’ life, his death and resurrection.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many churches adopt alternate methods in commemorating the day including streaming religious services online.

During the Middle Ages, Palm Sunday was an elaborate event: the service began in one church, then they went to a different church to get the palms blessed, and returned to the first church to sing the liturgy – which is the chanting by three deacons of the account of the Passion of Christ (Matthew 26:36–27:54).

There was often music and a choir.

However, after the reforms of the Roman Catholic liturgies in 1955 and 1969, the ceremonies were simplified in order to emphasise the suffering and death of Christ and his selfless sacrifice.


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