Palm Sunday: The first day of the Savior’s final week

people walking in colorful clothes holding large palm leaves in what is supposed to be historic Jerusalem
Christ's triumphant entrance in Jerusalem is now celebrated as Palm Sunday, the first day of holy week

Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week known as Palm Sunday, the day Jesus Christ triumphally entered Jerusalem, just days before He would ultimately be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind and one week before His resurrection.

The account of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem is found in the New Testament in Matthew 21: 8-11.

“And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees and strawed them in the way,” Matthew recorded. “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this. And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”

Palm Sunday is named for the palm branches that were used to usher Christ into the city. They were laid on the ground for Christ and His donkey to walk over, along with cloaks and other garments, as a means of worshipping and respecting the Messiah. The palms symbolize victory, peace and triumph which set the stage for the extraordinary events that would take place later that week.

While the multitudes praised Him because they knew of His divine mission, Christ’s arrival to the city on a donkey also fulfilled the prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” Zechariah prophesied.

Palm Sunday is widely celebrated among the different sects of Christianity, though the types of celebrations vary. In some faiths — like Catholicism — palm fronds are blessed and passed out to parishioners in a special Palm Sunday service. Those palm fronds are then burned and made into the ashes that will be used for the next year’s Ash Wednesday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be holding a biannual General Conference during this Palm Sunday weekend — April 1-2 — and invite people all over the world to hear from living prophets and apostles and worship together. Learn more about General Conference and how to join the broadcast on the Church website.