Palm Sunday is a time for Christian worshipers to celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, an event that took place the week before his death and resurrection. Palm Sunday is a moveable feast, meaning the date changes every year based on the calendar. Palm Sunday always falls one week before Easter Sunday.
The Story of Easter (The Triumphal Entry)
Take a look at this really well made animated video which explains what Palm Sunday is and why we still celebrate it today.
How Is Palm Sunday Celebrated Today?
Many churches will distribute palm branches on Palm Sunday to those in attendance. The service is likely to include a reading of the account of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the carrying and waving of palm branches, the blessing of palms, the singing of traditional hymns, and the making of small crosses with palm fronds.
In some traditions, worshippers take home and display their palm branches near a cross or crucifix, or press them into their Bible until the next year’s season of Lent. Some churches will place collection baskets to gather the old palm leaves to be burned on Shrove Tuesday of the following year and used in the next day’s Ash Wednesday services.
Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week, a solemn week focusing on the final days of Jesus‘ life. Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday Activities in School
Due to Palm Sunday taking place at the end of the week, it wouldn’t be possible to celebrate in school on the day. However, that hasn’t stopped these schools from trying, and they’ve come up with some very creative ideas for activities during the week lead up.
Cannon Burrows published a guide (left) onto their Twitter page for their pupils to be able to make their own Palm Crosses at home. Lincoln Gardens Primary (middle) had a day of lessons all about Palm Sunday and they had a go at recreating the Triumphal Entry – when Jesus entered the town of Jerusalem on a donkey. And I’m loving the decorated faith room at Berrow School.
Clothespin Donkey Craft
A pretty fun and no-hassle activity that can be completed quite easily is the classic Clothespin Donkey. Take a look here at this guide on how to make your very own Clothespin Donkey. Attaching a key piece of knowledge about the day could also help with information recollection.
Traditional Palm Sunday Dishes
1. Pax cakes
During the Middle Ages in England, churches would hand out small biscuits called pax cakes after Palm Sunday service. Pax means peace in Latin, and the clergy would utter something along the lines of “God and good neighborhood” when handing them out to congregants (and, this being the Middle Ages, a small glass of beer would be given with the pax cake).
The biscuits would have the image of a lamb and a flag to represent Jesus (the Lamb of God) and peace. Churches in Herefordshire in central England are known for continuing the pax cake tradition, though many churches have abandoned the practice.
2. Spanish Sunday Liquorice Water
In parts of England, it’s a Palm Sunday tradition to drink well water mixed with liquorice from Spain.
It’s not known exactly why parts of England turned to liquorice water during Palm Sunday, but liquorice has been associated with holy wells since the 1700s, according to author Gary Varner. Liquorice was sort of a natural disinfectant and sweetener. Before WWI, children would go to the well and drink a bottle of the water infused with liquorice from Spain while wearing a sprig of a willow tree.
3. Salt Cod
In Greece, bakaliaros, or fried salt cod, is the traditional Palm Sunday meal. Lent generally discourages people from eating anything alive, and that includes fish. Fish is served during Palm Sunday in the Christian Orthodox faith, however, because of its connection to Biblical stories. A fish has always been a symbol of Christianity, and Palm Sunday is one of the Great Feasts that celebrates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.
In the Bible, there’s a story about Jesus cursing a fruitless fig tree outside of Bethany in what is now considered Passion Week, or the week preceding Palm Sunday. In the story, the tree appeared to have figs because it was full of leaves, and, hungry, Jesus approached it. He cursed the tree to die when he found it had no fruit. Once he reached Jerusalem on what is now Palm Sunday, as the story goes, he ate figs. Thus, figs have become an important food on Palm Sunday. In modern context, that could mean fresh figs or something like fig pudding. So, probably not a Fig Newton.
We here at Teacher’s Pet have been hard at work to bring you some brand new and amazing resources all to do with celebrating Easter period. Click here to see all that of our resources relating to Easter.
Below I have picked out a handful of resources in order to help you get started.
Have a great day!
We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for how to take part during Palm Sunday.
If you have any great teaching ideas for this topic, feel free to comment below (they might even get added into the topic calendar!).