SUNDAY, APRIL 17: Christians worldwide celebrate with green branches today as they recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Also known as Passion Sunday, today’s observance kicks off Holy Week with a leafy celebration—usually involving palm branches distributed at services. According to Christian tradition, envisioned in centuries of paintings and stained glass, Jesus arrival in Jerusalem at the end of his life was marked by followers waving fresh greenery. ReadTheSpirit has been marking the Lenten journey of 2 billion Christians in a special daily series.
All four Gospels record Jesus’ triumphant entrance—and all record the enthusiasm of the crowds. (Wikipedia has details.) According to traditional Christian teaching, the news had reached Jerusalem of Jesus’ recent miracle with Lazarus, which Eastern Christians celebrate on April 16. This news prompted crowds to shout Jesus’ name and lay down cloaks and palm branches before him.
In the Philippines, a reenactment of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is common; in Jordan and Israel, Christian churches are packed with families whose children come bearing olive and palm branches. In many churches, the blessed branches used today will be saved for nearly a year and burned to form next year’s ashes to start another Lent. (Learn how to tie palm branches into a cross using a step-by-step pictorial guide from KingOfPeace.org.)
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.