Palm Sunday 25 March 2018
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent. It marks the start of the Holy Week when Christians prepare for the Easter celebration.
Palm Sunday marks the celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem. In honour of his kingship, the people covered the road in palm branches and waved and shouted for joy.
In the Catholic Church, church processions take place with people carrying pussy willow branches. The veneration of palm trees dates back to antiquity; in the Orient palm leaves were used as a sign of welcome for victorious soldiers. The blessing of palm leaves dates back as far as the 8th century. Due to the fact that palm trees do not grow in Central and Northern Europe, they were replaced by pussy willow branches, but depending on the region it can also be sycamore, beech, birch, willow, hazelnut, gooseberry or juniper branches.
The branches which are blessed during Palm Sunday Mass, are believed to protect against evil, which is why they are placed in the „Herrgottswinkel“ (house altar), or hung on the crucifix, on pictures of the saints or on mirrors. On Ash Wednesday of the following year, the branches are burned and the ash is used for the ash crosses that are marked on worshippers’ foreheads at the beginning of Lent.