What’s with the donkey and the people waving palaspas? My Pope breaks down the details behind the day that signifies the start of Holy Week.
Palm Sunday commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Cited in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the triumphal occasion is celebrated with elaborately woven palm fronds (palaspas in Pilipino, palmurelli in Italian) waved in the air and laid upon His path.
The donkey is key.
In ancient times, royalty was said to have arrived via procession on a donkey. As a symbol of peace, the donkey ferried only those with the purest of hearts and intentions. Such was Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
The palaspas mean something, too!
Likewise symbols of peace that date back to 700 AD, the palaspas represent goodness and foreshadow the victory of Jesus over death.
Plus, they go a long way.
After the faithful have their palaspas blessed, they take it with them and place it on the main entrance of their home or altar. The presence of blessed palaspas in the home means Christ is welcomed there, but it is also believed to ward off evil spirits and potential catastrophes like fire.
As in a real long way.
The palaspas from this Palm Sunday will be displayed several months and later burned, their ashes used for the following year’s Ash Wednesday rites. Holy water gives the powdery black ash a light, paste-like consistency that sticks to the skin when the priest marks a cross on your forehead with his thumb.
Also Read: How Do Filipinos Prepare for Easter Sunday?
Did You Know?
- Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday. That’s because the Passion narrative is read on this Sunday’s Mass.
- Different types of plants are used when palm leaves are unavailable. Italy uses olive branches (which represent peace), Ireland gathers yew branches, and other countries around Europe rely on the pussy willow.
- Some palm fronds are designed in the shape of a cross.
- Palm weaving is actually an art! Originally practiced by sailors in tropical ports, the craft was taken up and mastered by Sicilians in the 4th century. In her book Palm Weaving, US-based Franciscan nun Cecilia Schmitt amazes with her endless interpretations—from crosses to birds and stars.