Thousands of Christians around the world gathered at the church on April 10, 2022 to participate in services for Palm Sunday, the first day of the Holy Week.
Christians practice different customs during this day, but the most common is the waving of palm leaves. This is in remembrance of Jesus’ last days before His death on the cross. As Jesus entered Jerusalem while riding on a donkey, people laid palm branches on the ground as He passed while calling Him “Hosanna.” Palm branches symbolized victory during that time.
This practice is done in many countries across the world. Christians prepare the palm branches on Saturday and they bring them to church on Palm Sunday. After the blessing of palm leaves, the faithful enter the church to hear Mass.
Christians carried palm branches and joined a procession on the Mt. of Olives down to the Old City of Jerusalem. This is the route believers walk on Palm Sunday to relive the journey Jesus took on His final entrance to Jerusalem.
In John 12:12-13, it says:
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
This year’s Palm Sunday is the first time after the pandemic Christian families were able to go to church. Lowered health restrictions allowed people to visit religious tourist spots and at the top of that list is Jerusalem. However, several factors affected the number of tourists this year.
One of the spectators of the Palm Sunday procession outside the Old City said the decline in tourism may be due to economics, heightened tension in Jerusalem, and Ramadan falling at the same time as Palm Sunday.
Shop owners around the city also noticed a quieter atmosphere and streets were mostly empty this time of year when crowds of tourists usually gather, reports The Media Line. They said a bulk of visitors come from eastern Europe. Eastern Orthodox Christians from Poland, Russia, and Ukraine travel to Jerusalem to walk the same streets Jesus walked on. But, with the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the number of tourists dwindled.
However, hotel bookings tell a different story. Fawaz Shaaban, hotel manager at Prima Royale Hotel, said all their 133 will be fully booked for Passover, which begins on Friday. “People are thirsty for the Holy Land; they want to drink from its waters.”
Why is Palm Sunday observed on different dates?
This year, Palm Sunday is celebrated on April 10 for Western denominations of Christianity. According to Britannica, the date is moveable since it marks the Sunday before Easter. Easter occurs on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox, and this year, it was on March 20. Easter can be observed on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.