MANILA—Today, the Catholic faith observes Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of the Holy Week.
Palm Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar after Christmas and before Easter.
The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the Jerusalem Church around the late fourth century. The early Palm Sunday ceremony consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons recited by the clergy while the people walked to various holy sites throughout the city.
Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowd spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” to honor Him as their long-awaited Messiah and King.
In modern times, Palm Sunday traditions begin with the blessing of the palms to be followed by a procession. During the Mass, passion and the benediction are sung. Afterwards, many people take the palms home and place them in their houses.
Meanwhile, in some countries palms are placed on the graves of the departed. In colder northern climates where palm trees are not found, branches of yew, willow, and sallow trees are used. The palms blessed in the ceremony are burned at the end of the day.
In the Philippines, there are some places where a re-enactment of Jesus’ triumphal entry occurs. Some Catholic priest rides a horse and is surrounded by the congregation, bearing palms. Sometimes women also spread large cloths or aprons along the procession route. Palm branches called ‘palaspas’ are taken home after the Mass and are hung in doorways and windows.
With the beginning of Holy Week, let us call to mind the love of Christ as we reflect on the final week of His life…a time to prepare our hearts for the agony of His passion and the joy of His resurrection.