Palm Branch Uses

Palm branches can be used for a number of purposes in church, especially at Easter time. Some churches use palm branches beginning on Palm Sunday and moving through Holy Week. The use of palm branches is not confined to a single denomination.

Some churches use real palm branches for these activities and others use artificial ones. The United Methodist Church estimates that approximately 300 million palm branches are used in church celebrations.

  1. Palm Sunday Procession

    • Provide palm branches to members of the church worship team and congregation who will participate in the procession. Participants may wear costumes to provide an authentic air to the procession. Spread the participants with palm branches out along the processional path.

      Have the participants begin waving palm branches and calling out "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," when "Jesus" comes riding in. As he comes near a participant, have that person place the palm branch on the ground in front of where he will ride so that Jesus crosses over the mat of palm branches.

    Altar Decorations

    • Palm branches may be laid on the altar with a Bible, a pitcher of wine and a matzah. The palm branch and Bible should be placed on the altar beginning on Palm Sunday and stay until Easter Sunday. The wine and matzah are added on Maundy Thursday as the Last Supper is portrayed. Remove the wine and bread at the end of the service and replace with a wooden cross and a crown of thorns on Friday. Sunday morning, an empty tomb model sits atop the palm branches.

    Jewish Sukkat Celebration

    • Jewish believers use the palm branch as a centerpiece for shaking the lulav at Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, according to Rabbi Michael. This ancient ceremony originates in Levitcus 23:39.

      A single palm branch forms the backbone of the lulav. Two willow branches lie on the left side of the palm leaf stem and three myrtle branches longer than the willow lie on the right side. The lowest leaves of the palm branch wrap around the other branches so that they form a single unit when picked up in the right hand. A citron, called an etrog, is held in the left hand with the stem pointed down so that the branches and the etrog touch one another near the base of the palm branch.

      Each morning for the seven days of Sukkot, prior to the morning service, the lulav and etrog are held as a blessing is recited. When the blessing is over, the etrog is inverted so the stem is up and the lulav and the etrog are waved as you face east. They are waved three times to the east, then moved to the right and waved three times to the south, then three to west over the shoulder and coming around over the head to the left for three more shakes. The process is repeated three times.

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  • Photo Credit branch image by Dragana Petrovic from

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