Whether referenced as Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, Yew Sunday or Branch Sunday, the Sunday before Easter each year is a solemn, important observance for Christians around the world. The tradition of Christians carrying palms on Palm Sunday is associated with Jesus' followers covering his path with palm fronds the day he entered Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. As palm leaves are carried into homes, Christians are declaring the choice to accept Jesus as the King and ruler of lives and families.
"In this life we judge by how many serve us; in the next life we will be judged by how many we served," reminds actress, director and unabashedly Christian Patricia Heaton.
In many Christian denominations, worship services on Palm Sunday include a procession of the faithful carrying palms, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. The difficulty of procuring palms in unfavorable climates led to their substitution with branches of native trees in some regions of the world, including box, yew, willow and olive. The Sunday was often named after these substitute trees, as in Yew Sunday, or by the general term Branch Sunday.
Palms, which are said to be symbolic of triumph and victory, are distributed to worshippers on Sunday. Many church-goers tie the palms to make them look like a cross. Time reports that some churches burn the palms at the end of Palm Sunday, saving the ashes until the following year to use on Ash Wednesday.
Some celebrities who typically publicly observe Palm Sunday are Mario Lopez, a Catholic who in the past has hashtagged the day #SpiritualSunday; Melissa Gorga, who wishes blessings; and Oprah Winfrey, who has called it SoulPalmSunday.
Bible Verses supporting Palm Sunday include:
John 12: 12-19 - On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed [is] the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and [that] they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Luke 13: 33 - Palm Sunday is all about the voluntary death of Jesus. He came to die. He planned to die. He intended to die.
Mark 16:16 - He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Zechariah 9:9 - Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.