In most Christian churches, Palm Sunday is celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches or the branches of other native trees representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Christ as he rode into Jerusalem. This year, Fr. Ron will be blessing the Palms during our streamed Mass and we will save them in a cool safe place for distribution at a future date when we can all be together again at the church.
Throughout Christian history, there have been times when it was difficult or impossible to procure palms for various reasons. People then found plants growing around their villages and homes to use for the celebration, substituting with branches of native trees and shrubbery, including olive, boxwood, willow, oak and yew. At those times, Palm Sunday was often named after these substitute trees, as in Yew Sunday, or by the general term Branch Sunday.
A substitute for everyone at home this year is to cut small branches of the green shrubs or trees surrounding your home…there isn’t much green here in Michigan yet, so if needed, snip a twig of pine branch. (And kids, if you see a nice specimen at your neighbors house, call them first for permission. This is a nice way to share the idea with your neighbors!)
At the beginning of Mass, Father reads the Gospel reading, says a prayer of blessing and sprinkles the palms with Holy Water. Then we all sing “Hosanna” which comes from a Hebrew word which means “save now” or “save us, we pray”.
You can also tie a red ribbon around the base of your stem signifying the blood of Christ’s sacrifice for us and then use that ribbon to hang the branch on your door or in a significant place in your home to remember our “Hosanna” throughout the coming weeks.
Even though we are note able to join in the entrance procession up the main aisle in the church this Sunday, we can still tune un to the streamed celebration, wave the branches (maybe even march or dance around the room) and “Sing Hosanna” in honor of Christ Jesus, our Savior and our King!