For Midlands Christians, the graceful waving of palm branches on Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred seven days on the Christian calendar.
Across the region, adults and children gathered at the entrances of congregations, including Zion Lutheran Church in Lexington, for the annual palm processional. In many liturgical churches, the day is known as Passion Sunday.
Palm Sunday symbolizes the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days leading up to the crucifixion.
The story is told in all four of the Gospels: How Jesus first instructed his disciples to bring a colt or donkey to him and when they did, he mounted the creature and rode into the city. The Gospel of Mark in chapter 11, verses 8 and 9 says: “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna!’ Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
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With his entrance into the holy city, Jesus began his journey toward the cross and Easter.
Easter this year is celebrated April 20 for Western Christians, including Roman Catholics, Protestants and the Anglican Communion, and Eastern Orthodox churches, including Russian and Greek Orthodox.
Sometimes the two celebrations are separated, as Western Christians follow the Gregorian calendar while Eastern Orthodox Christians recognize the Julian calendar.
In the west, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon, called the Paschal Full Moon, after the March equinox.