Christians from around the world carried symbolic palms Sunday in honor of the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem before his crucfiixion.
Palm Sunday marks the start of religious observances during the Holy Week and prepares churchgoers for the coming Easter Sunday, which is celebrated as the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Orthodox Christians commemorate Palm Sunday the following week.
Perhaps the biggest celebrations will be held in Jerusalem itself, where Christ was greeted by throngs of people waving palm leaves to symbolize his arrival.
Most Christians convert the palm fronds into crosses, bows or rosettes which they hold during Palm Sunday mass and the procession. These crosses will then be burned the following year and its ashes will be used on Ash Wednesday.
The symbol is to remind us of that journey and of Holy Week and the events leading up to his crucifixion, churchgoer Melissa Sheridan was quoted as saying by The Daily Reflector. This is why we make them into crosses. It becomes more symbolic of the crucifixion.
Pope Benedict XVI, having just returned from Cuba, inaugurated the occasion in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Here is a gallery of pictures of Palm Sunday celebrations:
The Catholic faithful wave their palm branches while participating in a Palm Sunday procession in Manila April 1, 2012. Reuters
A priest, wheeled on a makeshift cart, sprinkles holy water as the Catholic faithful wave their palm branches while participating in a Palm Sunday procession in Manila April 1, 2012 Reuters
Churchgoers wave their woven palms in front of a crucifix during Palm Sunday mass in Manila April 1,2012. Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week which is marked throughout the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country. Reuters
Churchgoers, with their woven palms, touch the glass where a baby Jesus doll, called Sto. Nino, is encased during a Palm Sunday mass in Manila April 1, 2012. Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week which is marked throughout the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country. Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead the Palm Sunday mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican Reuters
Cardinals arrive to attend the Palm Sunday mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican Reuters