Palm Sunday is Christian observance which is celebrated around the world, though many Christian denominations. In 1970 the Roman Catholic Church changed the formal name of Palm Sunday to Passion Sunday, from the Second Sunday of the Passion. However it was very confusing because the Second Passion Sunday was assigned to the 5th Sunday in Lent. So they again changed ti to Palm Sunday of our Lord’s Passion.
Now know as Palm Sunday, Roman Catholic Churches as well their Protestant brethren , have the palms being bless in a few different ways. First is the congregation gather outside the church with their unblessed palm in hand. The priest starts the service with the palms being sprinkled with holy water most often using an aspergillum, which most Catholics will recognize as the vessel used while holy water is dispersed on a crowd. The Priest walks though the crowd as the congregation holds up their palms so that they may be bless. After the opening part of the service is completed the congregation processes inside usually in song, by way of reenacting Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, where the Jews sang the Psalm 118 and threw palms on the ground making Jesus’ path more comfortable. In the Lutheran church, the service is very close to the Catholic Service minus the holy water.
The entry procession may vary for each religion. The procession may consist of the Priest or Minister. The choir may also be part of the procession. The children of the parish are often in the procession as well and there may also be the entire congregation gathered outside as well. In India the procession is a little different there they cover the sanctuary with marigolds and the congregation processes though the church.
At the end, all the left over palms are saved and burned the following year as part of the the Ash Wednesday service. The Roman Catholics do consider the palms to be sacramentals or object that are set apart and blessed within the church. They are treated with same reverence any blessed item would be treated with. Other uniform items thought the church are the blood red vestments and décor thought the church. The Red is symbolic of blood and a reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made to redeem the world.
In the Eastern Orthodox church Palm Sunday, or as they call it the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, and they consider it among their list of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. And of course, it is also the start of Holy Week in all Christian faiths. Unlike the other Christian sects, Palm Sunday is not part of Lent. In the eastern orthodox Tradition Lent ends on Friday, then there is Lazarus Saturday, the remembrance of Lazarus rising from the dead. On the Saturday before, the congregation spends their time making the palms into crosses. However in the Mexican culture palms are also used to make crosses and statues. They are at times used in the actual opening procession.
Other customs that differ are Russian Orthodox who use pussy willows because of the they were hard to find that far north. Some Orthodox churches will also use olive branches.
Although there are many different customs out there, the center point of it all is the same. This day commemorate the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and it begins the week that lead to his passion, death and Resurrection.
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