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. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week. For adherents of Nicene Christianity, it is the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes the arrival of Eastertide.
|Significance||commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem; first day in Holy Week|
|Observances||Church attendance, blessing and distribution of palms, church processions, hanging palm branches obtained from church liturgies behind Christian artwork or placing palm branches in Bibles and devotional books|
|Date||Moveable feast, Sunday before Easter|
In most liturgical churches, Palm Sunday is celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches (or the branches of other native trees), representing the palm branches which the crowd scattered in front of Christ 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.
Many churches of mainstream Christian denominations, including the Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, Moravian and Reformed traditions, distribute palm branches to their congregations during their Palm Sunday liturgies. Christians take these palms, which are often blessed by clergy, to their homes where they hang them alongside Christian art (especially crosses and crucifixes) or keep them in their Bibles or devotionals. In the period preceding the next year's Lent, known as Shrovetide, churches often place a basket in their narthex to collect these palms, which are then ritually burned on Shrove Tuesday to make the ashes to be used on the following day, Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent.