The celebration of Palm Sunday usually begins in a traditional manner in the churches by singing Palm Sunday hymns. Before the Palm Sunday session starts, there is a ‘blessing of the palms,’ whereby the palms being used in the procession are blessed. Palm leaves denote peace and this event marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Thereafter there is a procession which is arranged into the church. Now, inside the church, hymns of Palm Sunday are sung and the traditional mode of celebration is maintained. Verses from the bible that explain the Palm Sunday significance are read out as well.
The other name for Palm Sunday is Fig Sunday, as there was a custom of eating figs on that day. The other name for Palm Sunday in England was Olive or Branch Sunday, Sallow or Willow, Yew or Blossom Sunday, or Sunday of the Willow Boughs.
There are varied customs that has evolved over the years with respect to Palm Sunday. In many countries, there is a custom of praying and singing ancient hymns of Palm Sunday.
The Palm Sunday traditions are quite similar to that of the tenth century traditions. They begin with the blessing of the palms, distributing the palms as they denote peace and also chanting praises of the Lord by singing hymns of Palm Sunday. Thereafter, the procession follows.
After that, the people to whom the Palms were given took these palms back home and kept them in the houses, barns, and fields in places which were considered to be holy. In many countries, palms were placed on the graves of the departed asking for peace.
Places where palm trees were not found, branches of yew, willow, and sallow trees were used and the palms used in the ceremony are burnt off at the end of the day. The ashes from the palms are thereafter conserved for next year’s Ash Wednesday celebration.
For the laymen, Palm Sunday has a religious significance. It means that it is an event which marks the beginning of the final week of Jesus’ life. Christians consider this day to be a pious one and they prepare their hearts for the agony of Jesus’ passion and also the joy of His Resurrection.
Both clubbed together, the Palm Sunday hymns when sung instills a separate mood in all. It gives a feeling of staying close to the Lord and instills a sense of security.