This weekend is Palm Sunday weekend. It’s the final Sunday of Lent and the start of Holy Week for Christians across the world.
As we come to the close of our Lenten journey together, let’s take a closer look at Palm Sunday—what it means, how it’s celebrated, and what we can do to make the most of it.
Palm Sunday 2018
Palm Sunday falls on March 25 this year. On this day, Christians celebrate the arrival of Jesus at Jerusalem. As most are familiar with, the “palm” in Palm Sunday refers to the palms laid before Jesus as he entered the city, as well as to the palms Christians hold at modern church services as a small reenactment. Adding to their significance, palms are also a symbol of peace and victory.
Frequently Asked Questions about Palm Sunday
Below are some answers to some frequently asked questions about Palm Sunday:
Q: I received a palm in church. Am I allowed to discard it after some time passes?
A: Since the palms are blessed, churches typically ask that you do not throw them in the trash. Instead, you can likely bring them back to the church to be incinerated. Some people also choose to turn them into small crosses or other respectful decorations to be kept in their home.
Q: Do the palms on Palm Sunday really get turned into ashes for Ash Wednesday?
A: Yes! The ashes many Christians receive on Ash Wednesday come from incinerated palms that were blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday.
Q: Do I have to fast on Palm Sunday?
A: No. If you’ve been observing the practice of fasting this Lent, you do not need to for Palm Sunday if you do not wish to. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the Time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence.”
Looking for ways to nurture your spirituality after Lent is over? Get your guide on "How to Incorporate Spirituality into Your Life" here
Did you know?
Palm Sunday 1965—if that date rings a bell, there’s a reason why. It was the date of the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, on April 11-12, 1965, tragedy struck Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa in the form of the second biggest outbreak of tornadoes on record at the time. As a result of the deadly outbreak, the NOAA National Weather Service made adjustments and improvements to the severe weather warning system, including the Watch and Warning Program.
Lenten Challenge: Palm Sunday Reflection
This Palm Sunday, take some time to reflect on these two things:
- We began this Lenten season with ashes, and as it comes to a close we wave fresh, green palms. In a way, it’s a reminder of the rebirth that we see so many examples of during spring. This coming season, take some time to enjoy nature and reflect on your favorite spring memories.
- In one Palm Sunday reading from Isaiah, Chapter 50, we hear that “The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary word that will rouse them.” What are some talents you were given that can make a difference in the lives of others?
Related: Exploring Your Spirituality After 60
Continuing Your Spiritual Journey
Some people wonder if Lent ends on Palm Sunday. We still have a bit to go—according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lent ends at sunset on Holy Thursday, at which point the three days of the Paschal Triduum begin. If you want, you can still get a free copy of the Lenten Challenge and enjoy it during this final week of Lent.
Of course, just because Lent is ending doesn’t mean you can’t still explore ways to improve your spiritual life. For tips on how to get incorporate things like prayer, meditation, and self-expression into your daily life after Lent ends, download our free guide, “How to Incorporate Spirituality into Your Life.”