Maybe you are walking the Camino de Santiago on 9th April this year and you see local people wearing their best clothes on Sunday and having a palm or an olive branch. That´s because it is Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week of events leading up to Jesus’ death. Palm Sunday is a catholic tradition that is passionately celebrated mostly in the rural areas of Spain. So it is a nice opportunity to share this festivity although you are not catholic.
The story began with Jesus and his disciples traveling over the Mount of Olives. They found the unbroken colt of a donkey, just as Jesus had said they would. When they untied the colt, the owners began to question them. The disciples responded with the answer Jesus had provided: “The Lord needs it” Amazingly, the owners were satisfied with that answer and let the disciples go. They brought the donkey to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As Jesus ascended toward Jerusalem, a large multitude gathered around Him. The crowd’s actions along the road give rise to the name “Palm Sunday”: “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road”. Therefore, Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
Today, Palm Sunday traditions are much the same as they have been since the old times. The ceremony begins with the blessing of the palms. The procession follows, then Mass is celebrated, wherein the Passion and the Benediction are sung. Afterwards, many people take the palms or olive branches home and place them in houses, barns, and fields.
If you are in Santiago de Compostela on Sunday, April 9th, 2017, you may attend the “borriquita” (little donkey) procession and the palm blessing on Quintana square at 11:30. It may be an impressive view of Santiago cathedral´s square full of locals with palms and unique feeling you may only experience being there. The borriquita is traditionally a procession for children.
Palm Sunday is really popular in Galicia (Northwest of Spain), although Andalusia (South of Spain) is the most renowned when we talk about the Holy week or Easter. Wherever you are in your camino in Spain, you will be able to watch the processions and religious atmosphere on the streets, either you are in a big city or a little village.
Buen Camino, amigos!
Photo 1 quintana http://www.elcorreogallego.es/
Photo 3 http://reflejosdeluz11.blogspot.com.es/
Photo cover http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2013/03/24/valencia/1364150668.html