Dates for assembly

11th March 2005 at 00:00
March 20 Palm Sunday For Christians, the Sunday at the start of the week leading up to Easter celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

Outline script for assembly leaders

In some Alpine German towns, the Palm Sunday service begins on a nearby hilltop. Everyone then processes down the hill to the church in the middle of the town. In the procession is a carved figure of Jesus seated on a wooden donkey. It's called a Palmesel (palm ass). This is in memory of how, on the first Palm Sunday, Jesus began his entry into Jerusalem on a hill outside the city. Crowds had cheered Jesus and torn down branches from nearby trees to wave in celebration - just as we might wave flags.

In medieval England, people acted out this story but as palms were unobtainable, they used willow, box or yew branches. This gave rise to regional names for the day: Willow, Yew or Branch Sunday.

In other places, people waved spring flowers. Because of this, the day gained other names: Pascha Floridum (Latin for Flower Easter); Blumensonntag (German for Flower Sunday) and Sul y Blodau (Welsh for Flowering Sunday). In Spain, the day is called Pascua Florida, a name given to the American state of Florida because it was discovered on Palm Sunday by Spanish explorers.

Nowadays, when Christians go to church on this day, they may receive small crosses made out of folded strips of palm. These serve as reminders of the joy of the first Palm Sunday, but also of how the crowds turned against Jesus five days later and demanded his death by crucifixion on Good Friday.


The Palm Sunday story can be found in all four Gospels, with subtle differences: Matthew chapter 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 (from verse 28) and John 12 (from verse 12).

To create a "palm procession", make leaves out of green card or paper and cellotape them to small sticks.

Local churches may be able to supply palm crosses. Try unfolding one to reveal the two interlocking strips of palm, then fold them back as they were. (This can be taxing.) Encourage students to deduce the translations of the foreign names for the day.

In his poem "The Donkey", Gilbert Chesterton imagined the donkey's thoughts on the first Palm Sunday. It is widely anthologised, but is also at www.chesterton.orggkcpoet

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today