Palm Sunday is a Christian feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. Because Easter is a holiday that does not fall on the same date each year Palm Sunday moves as well. Palm Sunday marks the date of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Many congregations will celebrate with congregation holding palms. The palms represent the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem.
The four gospels in the bible share that Jesus entered the town of Jerusalem about a week before his resurrection. His entry was one of much joy and triumph. The entry had been predetined in the old testament.
Zechariah 9:9 "The Coming of Zion's King – See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey".
The Bible shares the story of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem as the people celebrated as they laid down their coats and small branches of trees in front of him. The donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse and animal of war. A king would have rode a horse when he was at war and a donkey to symbolize arrival in peace. Jesus entered the city as the Prince of Peace
Many ancient lands in the Near East had a custom to cover the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honour. The arrival of Jesus saw the people laying down their garments. The Palm Branch was a symbol of triumph and victory. However, in ancient Egyptian religion the palm was carried in funeral processions and represented eternal life. The palm branch later was used as a symbol of Christian martyrs and their spiritual victory or triumph over death.
The Palm Sunday celebration originated in the Jerusalem Church. It was during the late fourth century. The ceremony consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons from the clergy while people walked to holy sites through the city. The final site the place where Christ ascended into heaven. The gospels would be read and the theme would be the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In the early evening the crowd would regather with children carrying palm and olive branches and the people would return through the city back to the church where services would be held.
Past 100 more years and the Palm Sunday celebration would spread to Constantinople. Time would continue and the ritual blessings of the palms, and morning procession instead of an evening one would take place. The western church would adopt the Palm Sunday in the eighth century.
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