Friday, April 03, 2009


On the tenth of Nisan , according to the Mosaic Law , the lambs to be slaughtered at Passover w
ere chosen. Because of the link of this to the Triumphal Entry, some new interpretations report that the event was not even on Sunday, because Nisan 10 would not be a Sunday if the Crucifixion occurred on Friday the fourteenth. This day in the year of the Passion saw Messiah presented as the sacrificial Lamb. It heralded his impending role as the Suffering Servant of Israel (Isaiah 53, Zechariah 12:10).

The first day of any Old Testament f
east was always considered a Sabbath regardless of what day it fell on. The Feast of Unleavened Bread always begins on Nisan the 15th. Passover was celebrated the Evening before. If Nisan the 15th was a Saturday, then Preparation Day (Matthew 27:62) was Friday the 14th, or Good Friday. In any event, that would mean that the events of Palm Sunday actually occurred on Monday, being five days before ( John 12:1-12 ).

If Nisan the 15th was a Friday, however, then Jesus was actually crucified on Thursday, Preparation Day, with Friday being a special Sabbath, a high holy day (John 19:31), and the events of Palm Sunday would be Nisan the 10th, late in the day, (Mark 11:11). Thus the days later that week would be Thursday, Preparation Day, Friday a special Sabbath followed by Saturday a regular Sabbath.

So if there is a relationship between the triumphal entry and the selection of the Pascal lamb on the tenth either Jesus was crucified on Thursday or the events of Palm Sunday happened on Monday. One final option is that Jesus was crucified on Friday the 15th of Nisan. See the article on the Chronology of Jesus for more details.

Observance in the liturgy
The congregation in an Oriental Orthodox church in India collects palm fronds for the Palm Sunday procession (the men of the congregation on the left of the sanctuary in the photo; th
e women of the congregation are collecting their fronds on the right of the sanctuary, outside the photo.

On Palm Sunday, in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many Anglican churches, palm fronds (or in colder climates some kind of substitutes) are blessed with an aspergilium outside the church building (or in cold climates in the narthex when Easter falls early in the year) and a procession enters, singing, re-enacting the entry into Jerusalem. In most Lutheran churches and in many other Protestant churches, a similar practice is followed without the aspergilium.

The procession may include the normal liturgical procession of clergy and acolytes, the parish choir, the children of the parish or indeed the entire congregation as in the churches of the East. In Oriental Orthodox churches palm fronds are distributed at the front of the church at the sanctuary steps, in India the sanctuary itself having been strewn with marigolds, and the congregation processes through and outside the church. In some Lutheran churches, children are given palms, and then walk in procession around the inside of the church while the adults remain seated.

The palms are saved in many churches to be burned the following year as the source of ashes used in Ash Wednesday services. The Roman Catholic Church considers the palms to be sacramentals . The vestments for the day are deep scarlet red, the color of blood, indicating the supreme redemptive sacrifice Christ was entering the city who welcomed him to fulfill- his Passion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

An Oriental Orthodox congregation in India processes outside its church with palm fronds on Palm Sunday in ancient Levantine Christian rites later continued in attenuated form in Eastern Orthodox, Western Catholic and Protestant rites.

In the Episcopal and many other Anglican churches, the day is nowadays officially called The Sunday of the Passion:
Palm Sunday; however, in practice it is usually termed "Palm Sunday" as in the historic Book of Common Prayer , by way of avoiding undue confusing with the penultimate Sunday of Lent in the traditional calendar, which was "Passion Sunday."

In the Church of Pakistan (a member of the
Anglican Communion ), on Palm Sunday the faithful carry palm branches into the church, as they sing Psalm 24.

Eastern and Oriental Christianity

In the Eastern Orthodox Church Palm Sunday is often ca
lled the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, it is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the liturgical year , and is the beginning of Holy Week . The day before is known as Lazarus Saturday , and commemorates the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. Unlike the West, Palm Sunday is not considered to be a part of Lent , the Eastern Orthodox Great Fast ends on the Friday before. Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week are considered to be a separate fasting period. On Lazarus Saturday believers often prepare palm fronds by knotting them into crosses in preparation for the procession on Sunday. The hangings and vestments in the church are changed to a festive color—in the Slavic tradition this is often green.

The Troparion of the Feast indicates that the resurrection of Lazarus is a prefiguration of Jesus' own Resurrection:

In the Russian Orthodox Church , Ukrainian Orthodox Church , Ukrainian Catholic Church , and Ruthenian Catholic Church , the custom developed of using pussy willow instead of palm fronds because the latter are not readily available that far north. There is no canonical requirement as to what kind of branches must be used, so some Orthodox believers use olive branches. Whatever the kind, these branches are blessed and distributed together with candles either during the All-Night Vigil on the Eve of the Feast (Saturday night), or before the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. The Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy commemorates the "Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem", and so the meaningfulness of this moment is punctuated on Palm Sunday as everyone stands holding their branches and lit candles. The faithful take these branches and candles home with them after the service, and keep them in their icon corner as an evloghia (blesing).

In Tsarist Russia , there was a formal procession into Moscow on Palm Sunday. The Tsar , himself on foot to show humility, would lead the Patriarch of Moscow , who was seated on a donkey, into the city. The procession would end at the Lobnoe Miesto , a circular stone platform on the east side of Red Square used for public proclamations and executions, upon which a Calvary had been erected. This annual procession continued until 1694, when it was discontinued by Peter I , as a part of his suppression of the church . There is a famous painting of this procession by Vyacheslav Shvarts (1868), which can be seen here , and a drawing in the Mayerberg Album (1661) can be seen here . An embroidery which may depict the scene from 1498, together with a description of its political importance, can be found here .

In Latvia, Palm Sunday is called "Pussy Willow Sunday," and pussy willows - symbolizing new life - and
blessed and distributed to the faithful [1] . Children are often woken that morning with ritualistic swats of a willow branch. People also catch each other and spank each other with the branches [2] .

Flowers (in this instance marigolds) strewn about the sanctuary in an Oriental Orthodox church in Bombay, India on Palm Sunday
In Kerala in South India (and in Indian Orthodox congregations elsewhere in India and throughout the West) flowers are strewn into the sanctuary on Palm Sunday the during the reading of the Gospel at the words uttered by the crowd welcoming Jesus, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who is come and is to come in the name of the Lord God." These words are read to the congregation thrice. The congregation repeats, "Hosanna" and flowers are showered. This is in echo of pre-Christian Hindu celebrations in which flowers are strewn on festive occasions, but also in echo of the honour shown to Jesus on his
entry into Jerusalem. Indian Orthodoxy traces its roots to the arrival in India of St Thomas the Apostle, by tradition in AD 54, and his evangelism among both the Brahmans of the Malabar Coast and the ancient Jewish community there. Its rites and ceremonies are both Hindu and Jewish as well as Levantine Christian in origin.

In Elx , Spain, the location of the biggest palm grove in Europe , there is a tradition of tying and covering palm leaves to whiten them away from sunlight and then drying and braiding them in elaborate shapes.
A Spanish rhyming proverb states: Domingo de Ramos, quien no estrena algo,
se le caen las manos ("On Palm Sunday, the hands drop off of those who fail to wear something new").

All the parishes of Malta and Gozo on Palm Sunday (in Maltese ?add il-Palm) bless the palm leaves and the olive leaves. Those parishes that have the statues of Good Friday bless the olive tree that they put on the statues of Jesus prays in the Olive Garden (?esù fl-Ort) and the Betrayal of Judas (il-Bewsa ta' ?uda). Also many people take a small branch of olive to their home because say that the blessed olive branch keeps away disease and the evil eye.

In the Saxon regions of the Netherlands, crosses are decorated with candy and bread, made in the form of a rooster. In the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden a great procession with oil lamps is held the night bef
ore Palm Sunday in honour of the Sorrowful Mother of Warfhuizen .

Many Polish towns and villages (the best known are Lipnica Murowana in Ma?opolska and ?yse in Podlasie ) organize artificial palm competitions. The biggest of those reach above 30 meters in length; for example, the highest palm in 2008 had 33.39 meters.

In Bulgaria Palm Sunday is known as Tsvetnitsa. People with flower-related names, (for example Tzviatko, Margarita, Lilia, Violeta, Yavor, Zdravko, Zjumbjul, Nevena, Temenuzhka, etc.) celebrate this day as their name day .

see other info on Lazarus Sat. & Palm Sunday :