Dates and Origins of Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday Dates in 2017, 2018 and 2019
Palm Sunday is celebrated at the following dates:
- Sunday, April 9th 2017
- Sunday, April 1st 2018
- Sunday, April 21st 2019
Palm Sunday is a Christian celebration that occurs the Sunday before easter1. It commemorates the days before the last supper when Jesus returned to Jerusalem. Palms are a traditional symbol of peace1. Because palms are not available in all climates, other branches may be substituted, lending to alternate names such as Yew or Branch Sunday2.
According to four canonical gospels, Jesus descends to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives after raising Lazarus of Bethany from the dead. Jesus was informed that Lazarus was sick and that his two sisters were asking for Jesus's help to make him better. Jesus delays seeing Lazarus until his death, so that "God's Son may be glorified through [the resurrection of Lazarus]." After being buried for four days, Jesus visits the tomb and asks Lazarus to walk out, which he does. This miracle marks a climax in the story of Jesus immediately before the Passion. Once Jesus descends from the Mount of Olives on a donkey, people celebrated by laying down clothing and palm leaves in his path3. In ancient times, Palms were seen as a symbol of peace3, whereas riding in on a horse would symbolize war4. In the near east, it was customary to honor important figures by covering or partially covering their path3.
Churches celebrate this holiday by laying down branches that are blessed with aspergillum, an instrument used to sprinkle holy water6. In locals where palm fronds are not attainable, other branches are used such as pussy willow or olive branches5. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the final week of Lent. For many Eastern Orthodox worshippers, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Lazarus Saturday, is used to prepare the branches as well as partaking in an all night candle-light vigil7. In many churches, the palms are saved and later burned on Shrove Tuesday for services on Ash Wednesday of the following year6.