Today, April 5, 2020, is Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, and it is the first day of the Holy Week. Palm Sunday serves as memorial of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Palm branches, which in ancient times symbolized goodness and victory, were placed in Jesus’ path when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.
The observance of Palm Sunday dates back to the late 3rd century when people traveled Jerusalem and visited many of the holy sites within the town, sang hymns, prayed, and read the Bible. When they arrived at the place where Jesus ascended into heaven, they recited the Bible Story of the Ascension of Jesus.
In the Western World however, the earliest evidence of the observance of Palm Sunday can be found in the 8th century in the Bobbio Missal, a Christian liturgical codex that most likely originated in France. During the Middle Ages, the ritual observances and procedures performed for the blessings of the palms were grand. After reforms of the Roman Catholic Church in the mid-20th century, the ceremonies were simplified and the focus was directed more toward the suffering and death of Jesus.
This year however, the commemoration of Palm Sunday is very different because due to the pending COVID-19 pandemic, our churches are closed and people are prohibited from gathering for any purpose. Congregations in Southeastern North Carolina, in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick Counties, turn to social media and virtual platforms like Zoom, they share devotions, and post pictures of arts and crafts which they created in celebration of Palm Sunday.
By Jana H. Collins