Easter 2020: What is Palm Sunday?

Last updated at 13:09
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This year's Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican, led by Pope Francis, was held behind closed doors

Today is Palm Sunday. It's an important date in the calendar for those who follow the Christian faith.

Churches and cathedrals tend to hold special Palm Sunday services to mark the occasion. However, many places of worship, in both the UK and other countries right across the world, are currently closed to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

Lots of churches streamed their Palm Sunday services to allow people at home to still take part.

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Thousands of people usually gather outside St Peter's Basilica in Rome every year for Palm Sunday mass

The Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican in Italy was also live-streamed.

Thousands of people from all over the world would normally attend the special mass, but this year, no members of the public were present. Instead Pope Francis led the ceremony inside the empty St Peter's Basilica.

What is Palm Sunday all about?

Palm Sunday is a special day for lots of Christians. It marks the start of something called Holy Week and it always falls on the Sunday before Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

It also marks the last week of Lent, which is a time when lots of people give up something they love for 40 days.

Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem just days before his death. The Bible, which is the book Christians read, says that Jesus rode into the city on a donkey. People waved palm leaves and cheered him.

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This painting from the 19th century shows Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey

There are lots of different things Christians do on Palm Sunday to celebrate.

One of the most common traditions is for worshippers to be given small crosses made out of palm leaves. This serves as an important reminder of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem and his death soon after.

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Palm crosses, like these ones, are burned to make ash, which can be used in Ash Wednesday services

Some Christians keep the crosses in their homes, but others burn them and save the ashes to use on Ash Wednesday the following year.

Palm Sunday also gives Christians the chance to reflect on the final week of Jesus' life before they celebrate Easter.

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