Palm Sunday is this weekend, marking the last Sunday before Easter. The sacred Christian holiday commemorates the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, where he rode into town on a donkey as crowds of people gleefully greeted him and spread out palm branches in his path. 

At many Christian Palm Sunday church services, common traditions include processions with palm branches, the blessing of palms and the construction of small palm crosses. While the story of Palm Sunday is told in all four gospels in the Bible, Matthew 21 is the one read at most church services.

GettyImages-484408641 Iraqi Christian women hold a piece of olive branch as they gather at St. Joseph church in Arbil, northern Iraq, April 12, 2014, to celebrate Palm Sunday. Photo: Getty Images

Here is a passage that is often read during Palm Sunday service: “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away ... The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.” 

GettyImages-468659688 An Orthodox priest blesses worshippers during Easter Sunday in Tbilisi, Georgia, April 5, 2015. Photo: Getty Images

Palm Sunday is significant because it represents the beginning of Holy Week, part of the Christian calendar that focuses on Jesus’ last days before he was crucified. The holiday is celebrated by almost all Christian denominations.  

“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, 'Who is this?' The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee,’” reads Matthew 21:1-3, 6-11.