The start of Holy Week changes every year.
When Is Palm Sunday 2023?
Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, falls on April 2, 2023. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and marks the start of Holy Week, which is greatly important for Christians. While Christmas is a beloved holiday for believers, Holy Week is “the most sacred week of the Christian year,” as quoted from The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Jesus scholars Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan.
Why Does The Date Change?
The date of Palm Sunday, just like Easter Sunday, changes each year. This is because even though Easter is a Christian holiday, it is greatly intertwined with the Jewish faith. Passover is a key element to the Easter story. In some scriptures, like in Mark 14:12-26, the Last Supper, takes place on Passover. Because of this connection, the dates of Easter and Palm Sunday follow a lunar schedule instead of a set date.
What Is Palm Sunday?
“Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week that he ultimately will die,” says the Reverend Dee Dee Carson of First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach. “We call it the triumphal entry and the Gospels tell us that it’s Jesus making his way into Jerusalem … people are yelling and cheering as he’s entering into the city … people are waving palms and they are lotting Jesus as the Messiah.” It was a day of celebration and throughout the day, Jesus fulfilled prophecies told in the Old Testament by descending from the Mount of Olives and riding into Jerusalem on a donkey or a cult depending on which Gospel you read.
In Jerusalem people were shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mark 11:9. Hosanna is an Aramaic word that translates to “pray, save us” and is a word associated with great joy.
Carson explains that Palm Sunday is a very joyous day, but as the week goes on and the final week of Jesus’ life goes on, things grow much more somber.
What Is Holy Week?
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. Over the week, there are other important days including Maundy Thursday (also referred to as Holy Thursday), which is the day recognized as the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, as well as Good Friday which commemorates the crucifixion of Christ. The rest of the days of the week are known as Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, and Holy Saturday.
What Happens On Palm Sunday Today?
Palm Sunday looks different for every church and denomination. However, like the name entails, palms do play a part in the ceremony. In some churches, like Carson’s, children process down the center aisle of the church waving palms at the beginning of the service. In other churches, the palm fronds are folded into crosses. It is also a tradition in some churches to take the palms from the previous year and burn them to make the ashes for the Ash Wednesday service.
Scriptures That Tell The Story Of Palm Sunday
If you are looking to read the story of Palm Sunday you will find it in the Gospels. Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, and John 12:1-17 all tell the story of Palm Sunday, and while some of the details in each of these tellings may vary, the sentimentality of this major event in the life of the church still rings true.
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