Palm Sunday is one of 12 most important Christian Holidays. It is celebrated on Sunday a week before Easter so every year it is a different day. Moreover because of the difference in calendars used by Eastern and Western Christians, it is usually celebrated on different dates by Orthodox and all other Christians. Still, if you want to know when is Palm Sunday in 2017 we can tell you it will occur on the 9th of April as this year the dates coincide.
On that holiday Christians all around the world commemorate the day when Jesus came to Jerusalem. According to the Bible, he was riding a donkey and all people awaiting for him were laying down palm branches and clothes on the road before him. By that, they honored him as a victor and as the King of Israel.
Having come to Jerusalem Jesus performs several miracles. He heals blinded and lame people by that confirming his divine origin. He also overthrows tables of barterers and salesmen in the Temple in Jerusalem scolding them for converting the house of prayer into the den of thieves. Remembering what day Palm Sunday is in 2017 try to wake up in your memory all the biblical messages connected with the deeds of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Palm Sunday is described in all 4 Gospels very similar though some details may differ. For example, all of them say that Jesus asked his apostles to find a young donkey for him upcoming to Jerusalem. And when they were asked what they needed the donkey for, they should have answered, “for God’s needs”.
Every detail in this story has its symbolical meaning. For example, you could ask why the God’s son was riding a donkey and not a horse. First, it makes him closer the masses, the plebs, as the Christian god was always considered to be the God of commons. Secondly, the donkey itself is considered to be the animal symbolizing peace while the horse is the animal of war. So Jesus coming to Jerusalem on a donkey is a victor bringing peace with him.
Palm branches also symbolize victory and eternal life. But in many countries the faithful people use branches of other trees as palm don’t grow there. For example being in Russia when is Palm Sunday 2017 don’t be surprised as orthodox Christians gather branches of pussy willow instead. So the name of the holiday is also different. They call it Pussy willow Sunday. They decorate crosses with it and take them to the church service and processions.
The holiday itself symbolizes son of Man coming into Eden. And with that, it has a rather tragic meaning. Jesus Christ was met as a King because people of Jerusalem were waiting for him to free them from the Roman occupation and to bring Solomonic kingdom. But Jesus came to free them from their sins and to bring them the kingdom of heaven. A few days later he sacrificed his own life so everybody who accepts this sacrifice could be saved from the power of Devil, Death, and Sin. Every saved soul after its temporal body is dead would live eternal life in God’s Kingdom. Does everyone interested what is the date of Palm Sunday 2017 understand the real meaning of the holiday? We hope at least more than a half of them.
Eastern and Western Churches differ in celebration of Palm Sunday:
- Orthodox Christians start to celebrate Palm Sunday with the all-night vigil. They pray in church all together as if they meet unseeable God and greet him as the Victor of death and hell holding lighted candles, flowers and branches in their hands. During the morning service, they read a special blessing for branches and priests sprinkle consecrated water on the branches. Then Orthodox Christians put them into the icon corners considering them to be blessed. In some places faithful even put pussy willow branches into hands of dead people believing that they in the end of times they will win the death, resurrect, and meet Jesus with the blessed branches.
- Catholic Christians take part in processions before gathering in church for the Palm Sunday service. They hold branches in their hands as well. They also sing special songs and the hymn to Christ. By all this, they symbolically repeat the meeting of Jesus in Jerusalem. Blessed branches are kept at Christians’ houses till the next Great Lent. There is also a tradition to burn these branches to get ashes for Ash Wednesday.
It is interesting to know that Western Church adopted the tradition to organize processions on Palm Sunday from Jerusalem Church. In IV century in Jerusalem, these processions included some kind of costume performance with a statue of Jesus on a donkey. In some western countries processions still include such performance.
In England, there was a tradition to burn Jack-‘o’-Lent figures made of straw. This tradition was probably preserved from pagans as there was a common pagan tradition to stone, abuse and then burn straw puppets symbolizing winter. So that is how they were welcoming spring.
If you want to see an interesting way of celebrating the holiday you should go to Poland when is Palm Sunday in 2017, calendar will help you to see and maybe to take part in palm competition. Polish Catholics make artificial palms more than 30 meters high.