Fact File: What is Palm Sunday?


• Why do churchgoers carry palm crosses?
• Why will there be processions through towns and cities on Palm Sunday?
• Why will donkeys be seen in churches and cathedrals?

Palm Sunday is celebrated one week before Easter Day. It marks the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, an event that is recorded in all four Gospels. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, while the crowds waved palm branches and shouted "Hosanna!" (an exclamation of praise)
The congregation at St Peter’s Church, Bethnal Green mark Palm Sunday with their annual procession along Columbia Road Diocese of London

Palm branches were widely associated with victory and triumph during the time in which Jesus lived. People also laid their cloaks on the ground, a sign of respect and honour for someone of great importance.

To mark this, Palm Sunday is often celebrated with a procession through the streets near a cathedral or church, where congregations carry palm branches or other greenery, sometimes decorated with flowers. Some churches or cathedrals even involve a real donkey in their procession, to mark the role of the animal which carried Jesus.

The palm crosses are then often burned to make ashes for the following year's Ash Wednesday service.

Palm Sunday is a time of mixed sentiment because, although triumphal, it precedes the marking of events which led to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.

It is a time for Christians to reflect on their faith and to prepare themselves for the solemnity of Holy Week, which culminates in the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus.

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